Educator Toolbox

TXGU Activity: Researching Colleges


Created By:
 Texas GEAR UP

Grade Level: 11th

Introduction for Educators: Your TXGU students have changed a lot since their first day in high school. They’ve grown taller, started driving, and held down jobs. College once seemed like it was a world away, but now it’s right around the corner.

The earlier a student begins their search for a college, the wider their range of opportunities will be. You can help a student select their target school, other schools that are within their reach, and additional "safe bet" schools they know will admit them. Students who wait until the last minute will have severely limited their choices.

Don’t let the final years of high school disappear without helping your students make this vital decision. 

Introduction for Students: It’s 9:45pm, and you’re hungry. You've got no snacks in the fridge, so you decide to hit up the drive-thru. The problem is that all of the restaurants in your neighborhood close at 10pm. You really want fried chicken, but you’re not sure you can get there in time. The burger place is closer, but you’re still not sure you can make it there in time. If neither are open, you can always stop at the gas station and get a candy bar. 

If you had only started sooner, you could’ve eaten anything you wanted. The sooner you start, the more choices you’ll have. Have you started the process of choosing a college yet?

The Activity:
1) Divide a sheet of paper into three columns labeled "Reach," "Target," and "Safety."

2) In the "Reach" column, describe your dream college experience. Where do you want to live? What kind of classes do you want to take? What do you want the other students to be like? 

3) In the "Target" column, make a list of the "must-have" elements you’re looking for in a college. What can you afford (with financial aid)? What kind of schools would admit you with your current GPA?

4) In the "Safety" column, describe a college that would easily accept you. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to help you begin your college education. 

5) Now do some research to find schools that match your description. The article "Which College is Right for You?" from the College for All Texans website will help. Try to find three schools for each column

Bonus Features: Did you know that there are 3,944 different colleges to choose from? Thankfully, there are some great online resources that will help you sort through the different schools.

On the College for All Texans website, you can view all colleges in Texas by the type of degree programs they offer.

The Big Future website includes a similar page for schools all around the country.

Use these sites to determine your "target," "reach," and "safety" criteria to help you in your research.