There are over 4,500 colleges and universities in the United States.  
The good news is, most of them accept most students.  
The challenge is choosing the right one for you.  

Here is a great place to start:
  • Create a list of 15-50 schools which you will research in-depth and narrow to 8-12 to which you will apply (list size will depend on a few different factors)
  • Explore each school's website
  • Visit in-person
  • Speak to alumni
  • Attend a College Rep visit on your campus
  • Talk to your parents
  • Talk to a College and Counselor
When thinking about where you will spend 4 years of your life, consider your preferences in e
ach area below. Selecting the college that is right for you can be an overwhelming task unless you study the differences between colleges and establish your personal priorities in regards to your college experience.
  1. Size – Colleges range in size from very small (500 students) to very large (35,000+)
  2. Location – Do you prefer to attend college close to home, or do you want to experience a new environment? Would you be able to adjust and function as well, or better, farther from home.
  3. Type – Colleges are either privately or publicly funded. Private colleges may be religiously affiliated which may add certain expectations for students who attend that college.
  4. Cost – Tuition, fees, room and board, and travel expenses... 
    • Tuition at state-supported schools is substantially lower than that of private schools. Students who wish to attend out-of-state, public schools pay out-of-state tuition fees, which in most cases equate with tuition at a private institution. However, private institutions often provide significantly more financial aid.
    • Financial Aid- Along with federal and state aid, many colleges offer institutional aid to bridge the gap. Some private colleges even offer financial aid that places the cost in line with that of public colleges.
  5. Admission Requirements – In addition to presenting acceptable scores on entrance exams, some colleges require a certain number of units in high school preparatory courses, as well as essays, recommendations, or interviews.
  6. Curriculum and Degrees Offered – Consider the availability of adequate academic programs in the area you intend to study, as well as the requirements for achieving a degree in your major at that particular college.
  7. Honors – Distinctive academic programs may be available to students who meet requirements.
  8. Facilities – Are you interested in the quality of the facilities, including classrooms, laboratories, libraries, residence halls, etc?
  9. Extra-Curricular Activities – The colleges you add to your list should offer a variety of activities which are of interest to you, e.g., student government, social organizations, athletic or intramural activities, etc.
  10. Family Tradition – Your family may have strong ties to a particular college. Consider if this school should be on your list if it's specifications align with your needs/desires in the categories above.
*There are more criteria you can use to evaluate a school. This list should get you started.
When adding schools to your list, you will put each school into 1 of 3 categories based on acceptance rate; Reach, Target or Safety.

Reach: 5%-25% Acceptance Rate
Put a school in the reach category if:
  1. You want to attend 
  2. You meet all the requirements for the required coursework
  3. Your SAT I or ACT score is at or about the average that was accepted last year 
  4. Your unweighted GPA is at or about the average accepted last year 
  5. You have taken the average number of honors/AP/IB courses 
  6. The major you want is available and you have checked the graduation requirements 
  7. You meet every requirement for admission and you submit a complete application before the deadline
TIP: Ivy League schools are a reach for anyone. If you are planning to apply to any Ivies, put them in your Reach Category.

Target: 26%-60% Acceptance Rate
Put a school in the target category if:
  1. You want to attend 
  2. You have visited the college 
  3. You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework 
  4. Your SAT I or ACT score is at or above the average that was accepted last year
  5. Your unweighted GPA is above the average accepted last year 
  6. You have taken the average number of honors/AP/IB courses 
  7. The major you want is available and you have checked the graduation requirements 
  8. You meet every requirement for admission and you submit a complete application before the deadline
Safety: 61% Acceptance Rate or higher 
Put a school in the safety category if:
  1. You want to attend 
  2. You have visited the college 
  3. You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework 
  4. Your SAT I or ACT score is significantly above the average that was accepted last year 
  5. Your unweighted GPA is significantly above the average accepted last year 
  6. You have taken the average number of honors/AP courses 
  7. The major you want is available and you have checked the graduation requirements 
  8. You meet every requirement for admission and you submit a complete application before the deadline


The Naviance Family Connection 
College & Career Readiness Program

Naviance is a comprehensive college and career planning software program that will help students throughout the college admissions process. Each CUSD student has their own Naviance account.

Some of the information on Naviance that should benefit students includes:
  • A college search (College SuperMatch) to help you find schools that are the right fit for you.
  • Tasks that are assigned to you by a Counselor or Academic Advisor to assist you in completing all parts of the college search and application process.
  • A current list of scholarships available.
  • A Career Interest survey to help you find the majors and careers you might like.
  • Surveys to complete that will help Counselors and Academic Advisors serve you better.
  • A section to list the schools you are interested in and are applying to so that you get reminder emails letting you know when those colleges are coming to your High School.
These are just some of the great uses for the Naviance software. 

If you need assistance accessing your Naviance Family Connection website, contact your Academic Advisor.

Other great resources for College Exploration
  • BigFuture
  • CollegeExpress
  • Collegecountdown
  • Unigo
  • Petersons
  • Parchment