My second favorite part of college admissions after the personal essay is helping create college lists. I love throwing out suggestions for students to explore and then go off on their merry little way and get lost in a world of college research. 

After a bunch of years of suggesting colleges on A2C and for my own students; a ton of college info sessions, college virtual tours, and college fairs; over 85 in-person college visits over the last few years; and learning from my fellow counselors and consultants at conferences and through counseling/consulting groups, I’ve decided to finally organize and share all my thoughts about college lists into well… organized lists (sort of — you’ll see).

Most of the colleges on these lists are colleges I’m familiar with in some way — either I’ve personally visited, or I know someone who attended, or I’ve interacted with their admissions team, or a counselor or consultant I know and respect has suggested it.  

Some of these lists were put together by others or in tandem with others. I’ve tried to give credit where it’s due. These lists are an ongoing project so I’m sharing them in google doc form so I can update them easily as I hear about other schools. And as the works-progress-that they are, I’d love to get your suggestions! Know a school you want to be added to one of the lists? That would be awesome. Let me know in the comments, please! 

You’ll notice in my lists that I don’t provide links for the most part and I don’t organize by alphabet or region. These are truly lists of colleges I’ve bunched together over the years to help me get a sense of what works for what kids. You’ll have to do the googling for links part tho — sorry :).

Here we go… (links are in the red headings)

Colleges You Might Not Think About 

This folder is filled with some pretty random lists of colleges like: 

City Campuses You Might Not Think About

Colleges for Hunting and Fishing

Colleges with Great Co-op Programs

Colleges that Change Live Type Schools

Hidden Gems

Honors Colleges That Require No Extra App

Mid Size Universities You Might Not Think Of

My Favorite LACs

Public “Ivies” 

Southern City Campuses

Sure-Fire Sure-Bet Colleges

Trans and LGBTQ Friendly Colleges

If You Like This College, Then Check out These Colleges

Here you’ll find lists like: 

If you like Harvard, you might like…

If you like NYU, you might like…

If you like Stanford, you might like…

If you like Swarthmore, you might like…

If you like USC, you might like…

If you like UT Austin, you might like…

If you like Vandy, you might like…

Geography and College

This is what I have so far in this one:

Coastal Colleges

If You’re Into Mountains and Outdoorsy Colleges

Majors and The College List

Definitely a work in progress here, but here’s where I am:

Biggish Southern Schools with Biz Majors

Biomedical Engineering Programs

Film Programs You Might Not Be Aware Of

International Relations Programs

Marketing Programs You Might Not Think Of

Poli Sci Programs You Might Not Think Of

Merit Aid Colleges 

Most of these lists are not my own, but I’m happy to share!

Jennie Kent’s and Jeff Levy’s “Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based and Merit Aid” (Aug 2021)

Colleges That Offer No Merit Aid

Colleges that Offer Really Big Merit Aid

Colleges Where Students Pay No Tuition

Colleges with Early Deadlines for Scholarships 

Highly Selective Colleges that Offer Merit

Large-Scale Merit 

Schools that Offer Full Scholarships

Need-Based Financial Aid

Most of these lists are not mine, but I’m happy to share the ones I’ve accumulated and organized

Jennie Kent’s and Jeff Levy’s “Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based and Merit Aid” (Aug 2021)

Colleges that are Need Blind and Meet 100 % of Financial Need (domestic)

Colleges that are Need Blind and DO NOT Meet 100 % of Financial Need (domestic)

Colleges that are NOT Need Blind, but that do meet full demonstrated need

Colleges that offer NO Loans

College Lists For International Students

These lists are of colleges that have historically been generous with international students

Ivy Achievement’s Guide (from 2019)

Jennie Kent’s and Jeff Levy’s “Financial Aid for International Noncitizens” (Aug 2021)

Colleges with Low COA for International Students 

Links to other helpful info

Jennie Kent’s and Jeff Levy’s Spreadsheet: Early Decision and Regular Decision Acceptance Rates (Class of 2024, from August 2021)

2019  Undocumented _DACA Policies for U.S. Colleges _ Universities

And if you just want to take the time to go through all the lists, here’s the link to the whole folder: 

AdmissionsMom’s Big Folder of College Lists to Share

I’m constantly adding to and updating these lists, so please feel free to make suggestions or check back from time to time — especially for sophomores and juniors who are just beginning the exploration process! 

tl;dr: Some might say I’m a college admissions freak. Kind of true, for sure. But that makes me love to learn about all kinds of colleges, and not just the ones you might hear of if you only survey the first couple pages of USNWR. I’ve got lots of lists and they’re growing and I’m sharing with you!