Resources for College Applicants

Free Online Resources: use these free sites to search for colleges, explore career options, find scholarships and test prep help, gap year programs, health-related resources, and more.

Career Exploration

Are you still deciding which career or major you would like to pursue? Consider taking an interest assessment to point out careers and majors that would be of interest to you. Then research those careers to decide if they are right for you.


A complete suite of interest profilers and surveys that measure work values, work styles, and transferable skills, then point you to “career clusters”—broad areas of occupations and careers that best fit your profile. Designed by the US Department of Labor; useful to students—and adults—at any point in their exploration of career possibilities.

By looking at the questions, you will know if you have an aptitude for that career.


The College Board’s student-friendly intro to choosing majors and
All-purpose career search for high school students. Action calendars for seniors; advice on student loans, many other resources.
Published by the US Dept. of Labor Statistics, this site can help you find career information on duties, education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of occupations.
Information on careers and postsecondary education.
10 legal-related jobs you can get without a law degree; specifies expected average salary and minimum education requirements.


Your high school counselor or college advisor may have a list of local or national businesses that offer internships. Most of those will be unpaid. Alternatively, you can “beat the bushes” and contact companies on your own, stressing your career interests and offering to work for free.

Once you enter college, the Career Placement Office will help you locate internships.

A story about a student at Case Western Reserve University who who found an internship with the White House Council of Economic Advisors in 2023:

CFC Collective offers paid internships to college juniors and seniors who want experience working with non-profits.

Search for colleges and college programs using search websites. The search programs will narrow down the list of colleges for you by allowing you to specify what you care about most. Different websites may give you different results, so it is best to use more than one.


Find/compare colleges using several “filters”, including comparative price; save to a spreadsheet; take virtual tours, etc.

College Board’s “Big Future” again, this time in college-search mode – still the starting point for many students. College search, plus the “Make a Plan” guide to the application process.

Links to 44 smaller colleges that offer more in-depth professor-student interactions than most big state schools can. Some are for extreme high-achievers; others follow the “We turn B+ students into A students” model.

 Corsava – Find colleges (and majors) where you’ll meet people with interests similar to your own.
Compare college statistics, including graduation rates, diversity, size, SAT scores, cost, etc. The data show that some schools are much better at graduating students than others!
Groups colleges into categories (“best value”, hardest to get into”, “best college campus”, “best student life”, etc.), and offers reviews and so-called “rankings”. Be wary of these rankings; they are often subjective and, as the site’s authors caution, “rankings may be inaccurate if Niche is supplied with inaccurate data from schools, data sources such as the US Department of Education, or spam and automated ‘bot’ reviews.”


Learn about learning styles, and which colleges best match your own preferred style.

“Higher education articles, resources and information for a better career . . . for a better life.” Includes articles on vocational ed.


An interactive guide to virtual tours at colleges and universities.


International colleges and universities search by either region, country or institution. A full range of options: gap year, short-term language study, 3- and 4-year full degree programs, and more; plus advice to travelers (what to bring, where to live . . .)
Search for Catholic schools and scholarships in the US and Canada.
Jewish students – Hillel’s college search and information about campus life.
Applying to Colleges

College admissions strategies and tips can save you time and stress. Websites are ready sources of information.


Applying to college, getting organized, the application, and admission tips.
The College Board – Organization
General information about applying to college. Pretty basic: create a timeline, explore College Board tools, talk to your counselor, etc.


“Big Future” again. College essay writing tips. Sometimes dry, sometimes corny, but useful.

College Essay GuyBy far the most useful and fun way to learn to write application essays. This ex-screenwriter makes it fun – and enlightens you in the process.

Ten good tips from the New York Times: “How to Conquer the Admissions Essay”, by Rachel Toor. Written in 2017, but still useful today.


Big Future – Interviews. Your starting point to prepare for college interviews.
The College Board – Interviews

GoCollege – Much basic advice, plus most commonly asked questions.
Finding and Applying for Financial Aid

College or technical school may be one of the biggest purchases you make in life. Be sure to research your options well. Financial help, in the form of grants, scholarships, merit-aid, work study, or loans, is available to students of every income bracket. Always apply for financial aid. The starting point of any need-based aid is the FAFSA application, which can be filled out for free online.

GENERAL FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION – Information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); provides the form you’ll submit online. The most important financial aid form you will fill out!
Finaid – Maybe the most comprehensive source of general information about financial aid, including articles and tools. Register for their weekly “personalized list” of scholarships you might qualify for.
Big Future – Pay for College. The College Board’s “grand strategy” comprehensive approach. Sleek, user-friendly. – Ranks and describes the top 20 financial aid sites using factors like “search functionality”, availability of scholarships, ease of use, etc. Sample recommendation: “Best for students who want the most scholarships and the most tools”.


Quick EFC (“Expected Family Contribution”) / SAI (“Student Aid Index”) calculator. What the US government determines as your “starting point” for all subsequent financial aid applications.

Big Future Search box – “Student Aid Index”. Currently being reconfigured, should soon take you to the Federal Government’s FAFSA site, along with accompanying articles.

Ed.govDetermine whether you qualify as “low income” for federal government assistance. Updated annually.


Scholarship searches can potentially save you thousands of dollars if you follow through and apply for them. Be sure to check the website’s latest privacy policy to make sure your information will not be given out to other businesses.

FastWeb – the most popular site for locating scholarships. It is free.

Big Future – Pay for College. The College Board’s Fund Finder scholarship database lists scholarships and other financial aid. Lists over 2200 programs. User-friendly.

A starting point to search for aid based on so-called “merit”, or more typically, ”desirability” – what makes schools want you, regardless of your financial “need”. scholarships for well prepared, high-achieving, low-income students. Accepted at scores of highly ranked, well-known, highly selective colleges, as well as at many other less famous schools you might be interested in.


These scholarship searches are worth checking. You may find a scholarship that does not show up on another search site. However, be aware that these sites are selling student loan products and services, too.

College Data – The CollegeData Scholarship Finder offers well organized, user-friendly scholarship searches and is owned by 1st Financial Bank USA.


Federal Trade Commission – the most comprehensive source of information on avoiding deceptive practices and scams. Try inputting “avoid scholarship scams”.


AthleticAid.Com – Sports scholarships, and how to find them. – College scholarships for students with disabilities or whose parents have disabilities. – Scholarship search for military and their dependents. – scholarship resource for students wishing to study abroad.
IEFA – International scholarship resource. Caution: wants to interest you not only in scholarships, but also in loans offered by sponsors of website. – Scholarships for students with various physical disabilities – dyslexia, sleep disorders, ADD/ADHD, etc. – These 7 “work colleges” reduce tuition by the amount students work on campus. They are listed as “Best Value Colleges” by the Fiske Guide to Colleges.

SMART Grants – Federal grants for 3rd and 4th year “already enrolled” college students in high-demand majors. Eligible students receive $4,000 per year (as of 2023) for last 2 years of college.

CGS – (Council of Graduate Schools) offers a list of sources of financial aid for graduate students; a debt-to-salary calculator, and more.
Tests and Preparation

Many colleges require an ACT test or SAT test score for admission; others are “test-free” or “test optional”. Check with the individual college’s website to find out which, if any, test they prefer. Community colleges require the Accuplacer test. Try free test preparation websites before paying for help.


College Board – Info about the SAT from the people who designed it: registration information, test preparation, and more. Links to free SAT practice tests and Khan Academy.

College Board – “College Readiness” – Free, authentic online SAT tests, all written by the test-maker. Provides answers, explanations and scoring apparatus.

Khan Academy – The “official partner” of the SAT/College Board created this free test prep site with great instructional videos and several complete practice tests—all written by the College Board. “Explanatory answers” are provided for questions you miss, though some students have difficulty following them. A great starting place for review and guided practice.

Reuters News story – A cautionary tale from Reuters News Agency about how Chinese hackers sold test questions to thousands of students in the People’s Republic in 2016. The College Board has since instituted measures it hopes will defeat hacking attempts (including the new, all-digital test), but . . .



ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) TEST – Good overview of the test; criticizes its problems and value; how it differs from IB program, etc. Remember: the College Board makes money (through ETS, which administers the test on its behalf) when you take an AP exam or order one of their prep books! Find out in advance how the colleges you plan to apply to will treat your scores.
Educational Testing Service (ETS); producer of Advanced Placement (AP) tests; test
Information; watch for provider bias.

College Board – About the AP Test.  Note: College Board may influence ETS policy & practices. – “Taking the AP Test? Five Tips to Help You Make the Grade” – Article written in 2016 but still pertinent. Tips are pretty basic.
Article: “Does the College Board make money from giving the AP tests? Yes” — this 2022 article explains how.


Wikipedia – Unbiased, third-party description of the test.

College Board – the CLEP test, registration, and test preparation; written by the test-maker.
Resources for Special Groups of Students


National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) – eligibility rules for student athletes.
NCSA Sports – Information about college recruiting.


LD Online – college information for students with LD or ADHD.

Article on adaptive technologies for students with ADHD. Some interesting items; not all high-tech.

Wrightslaw – The leading source for caselaw on the civil rights of learning disabled students. Especially helpful for parents who need info about IEPs and 504 plans.
College Living Experience – a “transition-to-college” program for students with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s, nonverbal learning disorder, ADD/ADHD, and other learning disabilities.

LD Resources – Choosing a college for students with learning disabilities.  

Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities or Developmental Disabilities.

College Preparation for Students with Diagnosed Learning Disabilities.

“20 Useful apps for kids with dyslexia & LD” – updated in November, 2022.


Hoagies Gifted – College planning resources for gifted students. Take a look at “College is Yours in 600 Words or Less.” Easy to read, prepared by the director of a prep school that caters to GT students.

Davidson Institute for Talent Development – resources for gifted students, including financial aid and college admissions information (use the search box “college admission”).


Active Minds – short videos that utilize “the student voice” to address mental health on college campuses; aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.

bpHope – Focuses on issues important to students with bipolar disorder. – Articles for families of college students with mental health issues.

Alcohol Rehab – like it sounds.

Addiction Resource – Guides, treatment programs, and other useful info for people with alcohol and drug addictions, and for their families and caregivers.

Before College Begins / Gap Year


Colorado Dept. of Education – Provides legal definition of “concurrent enrollment” in Colorado, with tips on how to put that knowledge to use to save money and finish college quicker.


NOLS – National Outdoor Leadership School – one of the best-run, most exciting ways to develop leadership skills for high school and college age students. Internationally-based classes (Chile, Mexico) also available.

Gap Year Solutions – Planning, internships, resources—lots of information here.

Go – a comprehensive “umbrella organization” that reviews numerous gap year programs and verifies the legitimacy of the providers. Recommended by the International Educational Consultants Association.

The Experiment in International Living – international exchanges for high school students: homestays, adventure travel, experiential learning, and language immersion.

WOOF (World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers) – travel around the world with free room and board while assisting organic farmers to plant, till, and harvest their crops.

Student Conservation Association – Experience “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion” while building, maintaining, or restoring parks, public lands, and urban green spaces.

Rustic Pathways – what it sounds like: a transformative student experience in the wild.

BDCC logo

Explore What the College Admissions 
Journey Should Feel Like

college student

“Through it all, Marco helped me to believe in myself and to figure out who I really wanted to be.”

Patrick, a Junior at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Kim Gangwich

“Marco, I can’t tell you how much you helped me improve my writing when we were working on those application essays. You made me realize that good writing is about cutting back and being real. I know this will help me in college.”

Tia, a scholarship winner, is studying creative writing at Kenyon College
male student at College