College Exploration
On this page:
There are A LOT of factors that go into finding the right school for you.
Start by putting together a list of things that are important to you and your holistic health and happiness. Do some reflecting. Think about what facets of your world energize you and bring you joy. Match your list up with schools that fit your personal preferences as well as your academic qualifications, majors offered, and financial package. If you don't know where to start, the CCC is always open to you to engage in these conversations. In the meantime, check out College Board's Big Future Step-by-step College Search guide to get you going.
Keep in mind that:
  • more than half of the colleges in the U.S. admit 2/3 of students who apply.
  • 80% of colleges admit at 1/3 of students who apply.
  • See beyond ranking/reputation will help you focus more on finding the college that FITS you best. 
College Exploration Spotlight Header Picture
Guaranteed Admission Program
LWSD partnered with six colleges in Washington (Central Washington Univ., Eastern Washington Univ., Washington State Univ., Western Washington Univ., The Evergreen State College, and Univ. of Washington-Tacoma) to offer the Guaranteed Admission Program (GAP). These institutions will engage with students in 11th grade to ready them for college and familiarize them with college admissions.
Criteria for Guaranteed Admissions Program: To be eligible for guaranteed admission students must meet or be on track by high school graduation to meet two requirements: 
  • Earn a minimum, cumulative 3.0 GPA
  • Complete Washington’s College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADRs)
How Students Can Participate in the Guaranteed Admissions Program: If a student meets the criteria or is on track to meet the criteria by high school completion, they are guaranteed admission to the institution. Students eligible for guaranteed admission must complete an admission application and additional requirements by the institute.  
The following student information will be shared with the six universities: 
  • Student first and last name
  • Grade level
  • Date of birth
  • Email account(s) on record to provide information about the opportunity
  • Unweighted GPA
  • Mailing address
To learn more about the program and how to opt-out of sharing this information, click on the link below to view the letter sent out to senior and junior students and their parents/guardians.  
College Campus

Questions to Ask

  1. Do you want a 4 or 2-year school?
  2. Can you handle humidity?
  3. Do they have at least 3 majors you would be interested in pursuing?
  4. Do you prefer the quiet suburbs or a more urban environment?
  5. Have you always dreamed of attending high spirited football games?
  6. How much money do you and your support system have to put towards your education?
  7. Low college costs?
  8. Diversity?
  9. Academics or athletics?
  10. Staying close to home?

Questions By Category

Additional Questions for Students with Learning Differences

Questions to Ask Yourself:
  1. Am I ready to begin making independent decisions while attending college?
  2. What am I looking for in a college?
  3. When I think about college, what characteristics do I hope for?
  4. Will I be more comfortable at a large or small college?
  5. How far from home am I comfortable going?
  6. What kind of support services will I need to be most successful?
  7. Do I want to live on campus?
  8. What kind of majors might interest me?
  9. Will I want or need to apply for financial aid?
Questions to ask about Support Service:
  1. What about support services?
  2. Is tutoring available? How much does it cost? How is it accessed?
  3.  What is the process to qualify for support services?
  4. Who do I contact if I need accommodations for a disability or learning difference?

Researching Schools

It is never too early to begin your search. Exploring different options through websites is one way to begin. You can research schools online through many different Search Engine options, but if you have the time and financial resources, it is recommended you complete an in-person campus visit. Reach out to the Admissions Office at the schools you're interested in to sign up for a campus tour, check to see if they offer perspective student weekends, or ask to get in touch with current students! Sometimes setting foot on campus can completely change your plan!!

New York Times What Matters Most to You!

New York Times offers a tool to rank colleges on what matters most to you.  Most published rankings are one-size-fits-all, based on formulas that don’t factor in your priorities, goals and needs.
The NYT created a tool to help students find the best colleges Do you care most about making money after graduating? Low college costs? Diversity? Academics or athletics? Staying close to home? Use the tool’s sliders and filters based on what you value, and NYT will give you college rankings that fit. A subscription is required to use the tool. 

College Search Engines

College Search


If visiting in person simply is not an option, do your best to interact with students, faculty and staff members from the schools on your list. Attend the College Rep Visits here at EHS, check out local college fairs, or check on the Community Events Calendar on the College & Career Center page.

Spotlighted Schools

LGBTQ+ friendly

Hidden Gems
  • San Diego State University
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Portland State University
  • Pitzer College 


First Gen logo
Hidden Gems (Fly-In)
  • Whitman College
  • Reed College
  • Colorado College
Hidden Gem (Full Need)
  • Soka University of America

Students with Learning Differences

  • University of Arizona-Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center
  • Northeastern University-Learning Disabilities Program (LDP)
  • University of Denver-Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP)
  • American University-Learning Services Program (LSP)
  • Find more at

HBCU Schools

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the purpose to educate students of African American Decent.

Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)

Colleges That Change Lives, Inc. (CTCL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process. We support the goal of every student finding a college that develops a lifelong love of learning and provides the foundation for a successful and fulfilling life beyond college. 

OTHER Hidden Gems

West Coast:                                

  • University of Redlands (LAC)
  • Western Oregon University (Deaf Studies)
  •  University of the Pacific (Music/English)    
East Coast:                               
  • Allegheny College (Industrial Design)
  • Loyola Maryland (Great Location!) 
  • VCU - Richmond (Art/Urban)
  • Webb Institute (Naval Engineering, FREE)
  • DePaul (no-portfolio BFA Film major; theatre tech)
  • Cornell College (one class at a time!)
  • University of Cincinnati (drama/theatre)
  • Univ of Memphis (kinesiology/nursing/location)
  • Loyola Univ New Orleans (music production)
  • Agnes Scott (women’s college - Atlanta)
Blog post with short video + downloadable Hidden Gems presentation:
Learn about colleges from home. Check out the College Tour!
Not only can you virtually visit campuses and hear from students from schools around the country, you can also learn what admissions counselors look for when accepting students to their school. There are many great resources available on the site, be sure to check them out to get a jump start on your college application journey.
College Exploration Spotlight Header Picture
Learn about colleges from home. Check out the College Tour!
Not only can you virtually visit campuses and hear from students from schools around the country, you can also learn what admissions counselors look for when accepting students to their school. There are many great resources available on the site, be sure to check them out to get a jump start on your college application journey.

Class of 2023 - Senior Survey - Destinations

Post High School Plans

Class of 2023 Survey Post-HS Plans Pie Chart

College Location

Class of 2023 College Location Pie Chart
Colleges on a Map Picture