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College Resources » College Exploration

College Exploration

All strong students interested in attending an out-of-state college are encouraged to take advantage of the Opportunity Scholars  program.  This FREE program will help you connect with many great colleges featured by the CSO College Center.  You will also receive monthly newsletters (check out their recent Opportunity Knocks fly-in and fall visit edition) with great tips and timelines!

One of the best college rankings, the Forbes Top 100 Colleges, is based on results (student satisfaction, placement in grad programs and jobs, low loan debt), rather than prestige. With over 2,700 4-year colleges nationwide, any school in the top 300 is very good—and anything in the top 100 is great!

Colleges That Change Lives is a book written about some great colleges that don’t always receive a lot of attention.  Reputation isn’t everything—you can have wonderful experiences at these colleges and get into great grad programs, with less admissions stress! 

Washington Monthly puts out college rankings that include how well colleges assist low-income students in successfully graduating.  They also analyze whether students at the colleges complete community service.

Washington Monthly Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings

Washington Monthly Ranking of National Research Universities

CollegeNavigator.  Maintained by the federal government, this is the go-to web site for detailed college information!  Check out statistics on retention (the percentage of students who stay at the college) and financial aid (check the average loan amount for all undergraduate students).  They also have college matching services to help you find the right college! is a web site created by the UC and CSU systems.  Click on the “Majors” link, find the major you want, and you’ll get a list ofCalifornia public colleges that will help you prepare for your dream career!

This site is great for finding which community colleges have your field of study.

big future is a service of the College Board, the friendly people who also bring you the SAT and AP exams.  You can select many different criteria to find the perfect college match for you!  Or, look up specific colleges to research things like the average loan debt of graduates and the percent of students admitted.

College Prowler is a web site featuring reviews by college students!  Keep in mind that some students use sites like this to gripe and vent their frustration, so reviews may skew negative.  Still, you should probably check this site out to make sure there isn’t a pattern of negative comments regarding particular aspects of your potential college!  If you can’t visit, at least check out a video tour!  This web site will hopefully give you a feeling of what it’s like to be on a campus.  Also check out each college’s web site—they probably have video tours available! – This is probably the best-known college video tour site.  The next best thing to actually visiting!

Career Cruising will help you explore both careers and colleges!  Take the "Matchmaker" career test, or just click on the “Careers” tab to go directly to your chosen field.  After selecting the career you want, use the “Education” link on the left side to find a description of the type of schooling you will need.  A few paragraphs down, a list of possible majors will appear as blue links.  Click on those, and begin exploring!

Colleges that give full aid! (or that have a very low amount of loans).  Open the .pdf file at the bottom of the page!  Note that these colleges are selective, which means that admissions is usually competitive.  Also, not all offer assistance to undocumented students.  See our “Resources for AB 540 Students” page for more info.

The U.S. News and World Report  puts out the most well-known college rankings.  If you are looking for the most prestigious colleges in a certain category, this is a great place to start.


Here are some great books for those students who are looking for a really special college that fits their needs perfectly.  These books will give you more detailed descriptions of the best colleges in the nation!  If you don’t want to buy the books, then check them out at a library.

 The Fiske Guide to Colleges

 The Best 376 Colleges

 Best Buys in College Education