We all know the big names like Harvard, Cornell, and UCLA. You probably have heard a lot about your state schools, as well. But with over 4,000 colleges in the US, how can you possibly know all the schools well enough to find the college perfect for you?
College search engines like College Board
, Niche, College Confidential, and even Fastweb
are all great resources for discovering new schools that may be a fit for you. But, in this article, let’s break beyond these traditional sources to some unique places to discover new colleges!
Everyone’s favorite social media app is actually a minefield of college information! When I was applying to college, I learned about a lot of cool programs through TikToks that appeared on my feed. This may be specific to me, but my application cycle year had a bunch of TikTok trends about college that were very helpful in exposing me to a wide variety of schools I hadn’t previously heard of.
Accounts like @60secondscholar
do quick minute-long videos on the key facts to know about a specific school while @nichesocial
is Niche’s TikTok account that makes college information so much more accessible.
is also a fun way to get a glimpse of academics and student life at a specific school you’re looking into. Simply search up the school as a hashtag and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find TikToks by students or organizations that you can use to determine a school’s fit for you!
is a helpful resource that provides you with a community of both college applicants and students. You can connect with fellow applicants while discovering new universities and programs. The applicant community on Reddit is quite large and diverse, so you’re sure to find something that sparks your interest! Also, feel free to check out communities of colleges you’re interested in to get a feel for the atmosphere and student opinion.
Gone are the days of Instagram
being strictly for staying in touch with friends—when I was on my college quest, Instagram was the one-stop-shop for all you needed to know about colleges! I’d open Instagram with the intention to search up one specific university and, 20 minutes later, I’d usually find myself deep down a rabbit hole of similar schools!
There are many ways to approach searching for colleges
on Instagram, but my advice is just to go with the flow! Usually, if you’re on a college’s Instagram page, you’ll find yourself tempted to click on tagged organizations within the college, which then leads you to similar organizations at another college, which leads you to the homepage for that other college, and on and on and on!
Instagram is a really good way to compare how universities present themselves and the rivalries and “friends” a college has based on their following. Instagram reels/IGTV are also good ways to get a feel for a college’s vibe.
This method of searching for colleges may be a bit more eccentric, but I think it’s fun nonetheless! There are some wonderful Pinterest
boards that are a compilation of some of the prettiest sights of various colleges. While you’re scrolling through the photos, there is the possibility that one picture will just capture your heart.
If the campus is a higher priority for you when looking for a college, then this might be a good place to look. It’s also a potential alternative to college tours
, which may be difficult for students to go on right now.
For beautiful photos of college campuses, this is a great board to explore
A non-social media way to find your dream school is to identify colleges with the best programs for your intended major
/field of study.
For example, for aspiring engineers, check out North Carolina State University’s
engineering program or the University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign
. For prospective political science majors, take a look at DC schools such as George Washington University
. You can’t go wrong with narrowing down your college list by major!
Most of the places to find colleges on this list are social media
sites, which means that researching colleges can actually be fun! You can scroll through TikTok comments to see what others think of a school while bonding over application stress on Reddit communities. Rather than thinking of it as a chore, make college research fun with these sites!