Anne: Your teachers’ words are likely familiar–check your sources! Don’t believe everything you read online. Make sure you are assembling research from a number of sources–school representatives, college guide-books and real students who can give a first-hand account.
Susan: At the outset, embrace the idea of exploring colleges with which you are completely unfamiliar. A typical mistake in list-building is driven by the desire to stick with colleges the student and parents have heard of. There are approximately 3000 four-year colleges in the United States. A willingness to adventure and explore in the process of list building minimally makes for a richer and better-informed college search experience.
Tiffany K: Visit college campuses! Use college websites and virtual visits to narrow down your list, and get a feel for the academic offerings and student body culture. Then, go see schools! When on a college campus, find ways to really get a sense of what it would be like to be a student on that campus: sit in a class, talk to students, set up a meeting with a professor, and explore the city and surrounding area.
Stephanie: It is okay to learn about a college on social media but keep in mind that you are encountering one person’s opinion and that it is important to learn about a college from several different perspectives. Take time to look at the college’s website and research the major you are interested in.
Heather: When generating a list of schools in the performing arts, look at past productions. Are they performing the repertoire/putting on shows that you would want to be a part of? And always check out the audition repertoire early, so that as you’re making a list you have a sense of the scope of what will be required.