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Your College Search Resources

How to Find the Right College

Use these guides to:

  • Learn about some key college search categories.
  • Answer questions to discover what’s important to you.
  • Get advice from college students and educators.

Get started with a free discovery call!

Test Preparation

KhanAcademy offers free online practice tests for SAT reading, writing, and math exams. This interactive site also explains reasoning behind the correct answers to help you prepare for your tests.

The ACT online test prep guide has practice questions and optional writing test samples:

Navigating the Common Application

The Common Application is accepted by nearly 700 colleges, and for many students is a convenient way to navigate the application process. This site also provides tips on how to fill out the application.

An unprecedented coalition of diverse public and private colleges and universities has come together to improve the college admission application process for all students. The Coalition has developed a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of applying to college. The initial iteration of the platform is now available for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school.

College Essay Tips

Don’t let grades and test scores tell your whole story – the essay gives you a chance to let your personality shine through the paperwork. Admissions counselors cite the essay as the most important part of the application because it allows them to imagine how you would “fit in” on campus.

How to "Demonstrate Interest" in College

(Why Facebook posts matter)

From your first visit through the entire application process, admissions officers keep track of your interactions with them. From Facebook likes to thank-you notes, it all goes in your file for consideration.

Financial Aid

Yes, financial aid forms are overwhelming but help is available. Find instructions for completing your financial aid profile here:

International Students

Free Sample TOEFL® reading, listening, speaking, structure, and vocabulary tests:

International students are not eligible for U.S. federal and state scholarships, but that doesn’t mean they have to go it alone. These sites focus on funding only for international students attending college in the United States.

Campus visits are often cost-prohibitive for international students, so essays become even more important. Examples of essays written by accepted international students are found here:

This handy pocket guide is a trusted source to help in the application process:

Have you heart set on an Ivy League School? Here’s what it takes to get in”

Discovering the Future

Career & Major Planning

What should be your college major? Which career should you pursue? What’s most likely to make you happy? 

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s okay.

My high school English teacher made me write my obituary at age 17 – only to prove the point that, somehow, looking back at life, one could figure out how to move forward.

It’s true that life experiences bring many of these answers, but there’re also less draconian and easier ways (plus lots of tools) to help jumpstart your thinking and land on some important choices as you begin your college journey. 

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go

Free or low cost options can get your started, but Starting Gate is here to help you refine the process and then match your goals with the universities offering programs in your interest areas.

Aptitude Tests

Take your skills and interests and turn them into a career! These tests allow you to answer questions based on how you perceive your abilities, and then those answers are matched with possible careers.  

Try “What Career Is Right for Me?” It’s free and will let you rank yourself on skills such as logic, communication, management, attention, and judgment.

If you favor games, try You Science. Eleven aptitude-driven “brain games” reveal your natural abilities in skills needed for high-demand careers. Each game takes 5-8 minutes to complete. You can stop, start, save, and come back at any time.

Career & Labor Market Information

There’s tons of information to dig through here, but time is best spent with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network Resource Center, a comprehensive database of worker attributes and job characteristics.

The O*NET database is skill-based and will help you identify your work-related interests, abilities, and values. Then, you will be matched with career options that reflect these preferences. From there, we will find college majors that train necessary skills in your areas of interest.

College Major Databases

Personality Tests

Evaluate your preferences, talents, and aptitudes:

Ready to choose the school & major that match YOU?

Making decisions for the future is, well, hard! No one has that magic crystal ball so we can plan perfectly for what’s to come.

Starting Gate can help you evaluate your skills, discover your preferences, and understand your goals, so you can make informed choices about your future!

Schedule your discovery call today!