During our tour of southeast schools, Anne and I visited many wonderful universities that would be great for our students. The question is: how do I choose from the 1,200 U.S. colleges for my list? Or even pick from the 12 schools we reviewed in the southeast? A family can begin their college search through some very good websites listed here: www.cappex.com or www.unigo.com but we are thinking there is a better way to put a college list together. First, a family has to decide their budget parameters for their student. It is easy to determine your estimated financial contribution on FAFSA. This decision will drive how hard the courseload should be for a student over four years of high school. Based on their classes and GPA, a student can apply to in-state schools or apply for merit aid at out-of-state schools. The next decision is potentially the size of school or geography. We use a map that lists 1,200 schools and it is pretty easy to cross out states a student won't consider. Or a student might focus on their interests or major. Does a student really want a strong fine arts program or animal sciences? Those decisions help narrow the list. Lastly, we think the student should talk to recent graduates that are attending the schools. Miramonte has created podcasts with graduates to talk about their experiences at college, listen here. Miramonte also hosts "Graduates Come Back" to be interviewed by seniors about their college experiences. I hope we can start offering similar programs through our college advising group in the next few months. The more students learn about former graduates experiences at a college, the more likely they will be happy with their final choice. Enjoy the journey!