As soon as you start thinking of schools you may be interested in researching during your college search, you should start keeping track of them. A spreadsheet is a useful tool to keep track of colleges and narrow down to the list of those you want to seriously consider.
You will want to include the following basic information on your spreadsheet:
1. School Name
2. School Location – city and state
3. Number of students
4. Cost to attend
You will also want to add additional information that is important to you. Some examples are:
• How many miles is the school from home or what is the estimated driving time?
• What types of scholarships might you be eligible for?
• Does the school have a major you think might be your first choice?
• When are visit days available?
• What special programs does the school have that you are interested in – honors program, study abroad, leadership program, etc.
• What athletic division is the school?
• Does the school have a varsity sport you are interested in?
• How selective is the school in its admissions?
One benefit of using a spreadsheet for this information is that it gives you the ability to easily sort by any column you create. For example, you could sort the schools by distance from home, by cost, or by size. You can also filter by any of the columns you create, like maybe you want to only see a list of schools that have your intended major or have Division 1 athletics. Another benefit of using a spreadsheet is the ability to add columns as you decide to track additional information.
At the start of your college search process, it is helpful to add any school you think of to your spreadsheet. Record the details and explore the school further. Once you start visiting schools, you can start eliminating some of the schools on your list according to your likes and dislikes. For example, maybe you realized that your ideal school size is less than 2,000 students. In that case, you can eliminate any schools on the list that exceed that number. Maybe you have decided you want to stay within two hours of home – eliminate any schools that are farther away.
As you start narrowing down your original list, you can add detail to gauge your interest level in each school. A color-coding process can be helpful for this. Use a color to signify all schools you plan to visit. Use another color for the schools you visited and liked. Add a column to record your overall impressions of each school.
A college search spreadsheet is a great tool to keep you organized throughout your college search and help you in making your ultimate college choice.