Finding the Perfect Fit and Writing Your Own Story

So you've decided you want to go to college! Now its time to start choosing options that best fit you. It may seem daunting, but there is a education program that will be just right for you. No matter where you end up, college can give you academic and personal growth. The journey is just a new exciting endeavor. Here are some resources to help you navigate the college app process.

Step 1: Prioritizing Your Needs

Write down what matters to you in a college. This can include factors such as cost, location, housing availability and sports. After establishing a list, rank these priorities so you can organize your college search.

Step 2: Finding the Right Fit

Your choice of college may be dependent on a variety of factors such as the majors available, location and even the types of dorms. Every student will have a special criteria when critiquing a college. To breakdown your choices, we can divide colleges into three categories.

Technical SchoolCommunity College4-Year College/University
Type of DegreeCertificateAssociate's
Masters (university only)
Ph. D (university only)
Approximate Completion Time<2 years2 years4 years
Majors/Fields of StudyπŸ‘·πŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ‘·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ πŸ§‘πŸ½β€πŸ’» πŸ‘·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ πŸ§‘πŸ½β€πŸ’» πŸ§‘πŸ½β€πŸ”¬
Campus LifeπŸ‘―β€β™€οΈπŸ‘―β€β™€οΈπŸ’ƒπŸΌ πŸ‘―β€β™€οΈ πŸ•ΊπŸ»
Sports and Extracurriculars⚾️ ⚽️ 🎭 🏈t 🏐 πŸ€ ⚽️ 🎭 πŸ₯ 🎯
Class SizeπŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“

Organizing your thoughts

To help you keep track of your discoveries, consider using an excel sheet as you research different universities. Keep track of academic, financial and social information, including both things you like and dislike.

College Search Spreadsheet

Step 3: Asking for Letters of Recommendation

In order to see you who you are from an outside perspective, colleges will require you to submit letters of recommendation. These can be from your counselors, teachers, coaches, mentors, or any other adult.

Letter of Recommendation Handout

Step 4: Select and Complete an Application

There are three main ways to apply to colleges:

  1. The Common App
  2. Coalition for College
  3. University Application on the school's website

The first two options make it easy to apply to multiple schools at the same time as you only have to fill in your information once.

Step 5: Writing Essays

College essays create a space for students to highlight different aspects of their lives and shape how their admissions officer perceives them. 650 words isn't a lot of space to write everything, so be concise and creative!

College Essay Brainstorm

Step 6: Submit and Wait

Before you submit your application, make sure that all of your information is correct and matches your government documents. Failure to do so can delay your decision or invalidate your application.

Waiting tends to be the most difficult part of college application season. Waiting for anticipation for months on end is nerve wracking. However, take this time to enjoy your senior year. Remember, the earlier that you submit your college applicatioins, the more time you will have to celebrate your final year of high school with your friends and family!


Step 7: Apply for Financial Aid

Applications open October 1st

Before applying to colleges, you will need to apply for financial aid. There are two applications that are available for Colorado students.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid opens is used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of a student. This application is available to US citizens and those who meet specific eligibility requirements.


The Colorado Application for Student Financial Aid opens on October 1st. This application is specifically designed for undocumented students who are not eligible for the FAFSA.