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Thinking of applying to college? Not sure what type of college or major is best for you? Wondering what the differences between a public vs. private college are? What about the differences between a small liberal arts school and a large state school? When are college application deadlines? What do these college admission and financial aid terms really mean?

We’re here to help.

BigFuture by the College Board gives students free, comprehensive college planning resources. You can make personalized college lists, save scholarship searches, compare college costs, and much more at

Starting Your College Search

For many students, one of the first steps in the college planning process is to start exploring colleges. With thousands of college options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. Take these five steps to kick off your college search and start building a list.

  1.       Open up a discussion with your family, guardian, school counselor, or teacher about your interests and goals. Find out how you can start building a network and create a mentor/mentee relationship for advice and support. Make sure to also talk to people who’ve been to college and learn about their experience.
  2.       Keep an eye out for college brochures and emails in your mailbox and inbox—you may find colleges you haven’t thought of. If you’re not receiving college mail yet, sign up for the College Board’s Student Search Service® to connect with colleges and scholarship programs looking for students like you.
  3.       Attend college fairs held at your school, a nearby conference center, or a local community center. These events give you a great opportunity to meet college representatives and ask them questions about student organizations or dorm life. Make sure to ask for their email address so you can send a thank you note later.
  4.       Visit the college’s website and social media accounts to get an idea of what campus life and classes are like. One of the best ways to get a glimpse of a college’s day-to-day life from the comfort of your mobile device is through their Instagram and Snapchat stories. Another great way to make sure a college is the best fit for you is to visit the campus. If you plan to go, download this Campus Visit Checklist for your next college tour to get the most out of your visit!
  5.       Use your College Board account to create and manage your college list with the College Search tool. You can update your college list throughout high school and use it to stay on top of important dates and deadlines when it’s time to apply to college. Start your search today at  Here's  a step-by-step guide to help you create a balanced college list on BigFuture

Building a College List 

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create a balanced college list on BigFuture. With our College Search tool, you can check out individual college profiles based on what is most important to youyou can search for colleges by location, majors, cost, test scores, and much more. When you find a college that is a good fit for you, simply add it to your list. You can edit the list as you continue to explore new college profiles.

Exploring College Profiles  

Each college’s profile on BigFuture gives you:

BigFuture College Profile
  1.        The option to select See similar colleges to view a suggested list of colleges and universities that other students also viewed
  2.        The chance to select up to 3 colleges and compare them side by side by location, type, campus life, admission, and cost and aid
  3.        The ability to track your progress in the college application process

Staying Organized

You can also use My Calendar to create a personalized calendar based on the colleges saved in your BigFuture college list. The customized calendar reminds you of upcoming registration deadlines, application closing dates, and financial aid deadlines.

College Board BigFuture My Organizer

So what are you waiting for? Start your college search on BigFuture today. We’ll be here for your entire journey—from your first thoughts about college to your first day on campus.