Finding a number of colleges that "fit" what a student needs is a time consuming process. I recommend students break the process into pieces.


  • Continue to research careers of interest.

  • See what majors are recommended for careers.

  • Investigate colleges that offer majors of interest and see what high school coursework is required.

  • Get a general idea of what types of schools require what types of grades. Google "SUNY Admissions Summary" and you will see a link to the most recent year's admissions data. These can change from year to year, but it will give you something to shoot for. SUNY Admission Summary


  • Continue to research careers, majors and required high school coursework.

  • College Research Worksheet Naviance: The attached file helps students look at a variety of important details listed on each institution's Naviance profile.

  • Campus Visits/Campus Setting:

    • Begin taking exploratory campus visits. Campus Visit Checklist and Campus Visit Scorecard

    • Students will often change their career of interest in high school and throughout college. It is important to keep this in mind during the search.

    • Identify 10 to 15 colleges that offer a variety of major and minor coursework that interests the student.

    • Take three to five campus visits during the sophomore year or before.

    • Try to keep an open mind and visit both large public and small private schools for tours. If private school tuition scares you, take a look at the net price calculators in Naviance and on school's websites. You may be pleasantly surprised depending on your family's income level. Even if that is still scary, visit anyway. Your student may have a special skill that a private school will value and reward.

    • Taking early campus visits gets one part of the selection process out of the way by identifying the campus setting where your student feels comfortable.

    • CFES helps this process a great deal since we take students on campus visits each year starting in 8th grade.

  • How do we pick the right college and factor in return on investment?

    • This is one of the biggest investments your students will make in their life. You want to find a school that both fits your student's needs and wants, but also one that provides a return on this substantial investment. Things such as location, size of the campus, majors, extracurriculars, cost, etc. are major factors. I help students with identifying solid options in these areas using Naviance. We fill out a lot of the following worksheets to gather information. Download Basic Research Worksheet located halfway down the page.

    • However, rankings based on various metrics can be helpful in finding the right fit as well. It is also important to see what types of outcomes and earnings different majors and institutions produce. Below are a few resources to assist your research.


  • Once students have their PSAT results they can plug that information into the college search tools in Naviance. Combining those results with other items the student finds important will help identify a variety of colleges that will meet their needs.

  • Be sure to sign up for the SAT or ACT if the schools you are looking at require them.

  • Take 8 to 10 campus visits beginning in February of their Junior through early Fall of their Sr. year.

  • Any student considering the military may want to look into special programs they have to offer, such as ROTC and Military Academies.

  • Make any adjustments to your list of colleges after the student takes the ACT/SAT in the Spring.

  • Attend your student's Junior Career Meeting with the School Counselor.

  • Art and Music Majors may have fall auditions or portfolio days that are required.


  • Apply to five colleges. The full reasoning for this is detailed in Jr. Seminar. However, below are a few things to consider.

    • 1 - Dream - Apply to any school that has a great program and you would love to go.

    • 2 - Confident - Apply to at least two schools that have a great program that you fall right into the middle of their average admission pool. Be sure to consider the specific program too, some majors are more difficult than others to be admitted to. Schools look at a number of factors, such as special talents, SAT/ACT, GPA, the strength of schedule, etc.

    • 2 - Insurance - Apply to at least two schools you are confident that you are an above-average candidate for admission. This isn't a guarantee of admission, but it is good to hedge your bets. Take as much time identifying this school as the ones above. Especially since these schools are likely to provide you the best financial aid package.

  • For more details about the timeline for college applications during the student's senior year see the "Senior To-Do List" and College Application pages.

  • Art and Music Majors may have fall auditions or portfolio days that are required.

  • Mr. Busch will also invite parents to join his Google Classroom and for a Senior Meeting.