There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, all with their own unique attributes. It’s important to take some time to contemplate your preferences to help you narrow down what you’re looking for. We recommend following these steps to identify fitting schools to include in your college list.

1. Make a list of what you want in your college experience.

Before you can determine which schools might be a good match, you’ll need to decide what’s important to you. In addition to your desired academic program, you should consider other components of the college experience like the social scene, location, size, and availability of internship opportunities and financial aid.

2. Research schools to find those that meet your needs.

Once you have an idea of what you want, start researching which schools satisfy your preferred criteria. It’s often helpful to begin with third-party websites that aggregate data from numerous colleges, then shift your search to school-specific pages that provide more detail.

3. Stay organized.

Keep track of your list using whatever method works best for you, whether it’s an online spreadsheet or a handwritten notebook. Use your document to record what you’ve learned about each school, including important dates and deadlines for admissions and financial aid.

4. Attend a workshop.

Our interactive workshops take a deep dive into the college application process to support you every step of the way, from starting your search to polishing your essay. We offer a variety of workshop topics that drive you to reflect on what you want in your college experience, guide you through brainstorming exercises for essay topics, and break down how to leverage every piece of the application to tell your story. Even if Hopkins is not (yet) on your list, you’ll still gain helpful insight into the college search and holistic admissions process.