College & Career Center » Choosing a College for You

Choosing a College for You

Choosing a college that best suits YOU is a very important part of college and career planning. Before choosing a school, perhaps the best questions you can ask yourself are ...


"What do I want to do as a Career?"


What are the significant skills you possess? Are you good with your hands, good at problem solving, a motivator of people? Are you attentive to detail, fast with numbers, quick to catch on? What are your strong points? It is important to connect the things you know about yourself to the career areas you are considering. You can take an interest inventory on Naviance to explore careers and college majors based on your preferences. Do your plans for education after high school match your career hopes? You may need the help of your teacher advisor, parents, college and career advisors, or friends, but it is YOUR future. Talk with the College & Career Center Specialist to discuss employment possibilities. Summer jobs, community service and/or internships will help you find out more about what you might consider for the future.


"Should I Go To College?"


If your answer is “maybe” or “no” look into the possibilities listed on our Vocational, Internship & Trade Schools webpage, at:


If your answer is “yes,” feel free to review the information below outlining the following areas:

  • Factors you can consider when exploring and evaluating colleges
  • Choosing your "Dream, Target and Safety Schools"
  • Helpful resource titled, Five Ways Ed Pays - a document from the College Board




  • More than anything else, you go to college to get an education.
  • What colleges offer the kind of education or training I am interested in?
  • How academically challenging is the school? Will I be happy with the challenge?
  • Are my GPA and test scores in line with other students from Del Mar who were accepted at these colleges? For more information about this, please visit the Del Mar Naviance webpage at:
  • Colleges range in size from 150 - 80,000 students. Size does make a difference.
  • Will I feel closed in and trapped at a small college?
  • Will I welcome the personal, friendly atmosphere a small college offers?
  • Will I feel lost and overwhelmed at a large institution?
  • Will I feel more independent and free at a large university?
  • Will I want large or small classes?
Atmosphere / Student Body
  • Colleges, just like any group working and living together, create their own atmosphere.
  • How do students at the university approach responsibility? 
  • Is the school single sex or coeducational?
A major factor to be considered is the cost of attending college. Ask: how much can my family and I afford for an education? The total cost for a year as computed by the college financial aid office, includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. While cost is important, don’t limit your choice of colleges to only those you can afford without financial assistance. Many of the more expensive private schools have solid financial aid programs, which may cover anywhere from 20% to the full cost, depending on your need.
Location of the College
  • The decision of a location and campus setting for your college should ultimately include those schools where you would be most comfortable living for the next two or four years of your life.
  • Do I want to go away to college?
  • How far away?
  • Do I want independence or would I like to stay closer to my family?
  • How expensive will my travel costs be?
  • How important is the climate and the weather?
  • Do I want to live in a big city or in a more rural setting?
Social Structure & Campus Lifestyle
  • What are the types of dorms? (Co-ed, shared facilities, student-controlled, etc.)
  • Are housing accommodations readily available or near campus?
  • Are there sororities and fraternities?
  • What is the weekend social life like, both on and off campus?
  • What are the extracurricular opportunities?
  • Are the athletic facilities important to me?
Steps You Can Take To Help Make Decisions
  1. Talk to your parents, your teachers, and your friends. Meet with a college advisor to review your choices.
  2. Look at college viewbooks, catalogs and handbooks in the College and Career Center.
  3. Use Naviance to create lists and visit college websites. Check requirements for admission (grades, courses, college entrance tests).
  4. Visit the Del Mar College and Career Center website.
  5. Investigate college costs. Find out about financial aid, part-time work, loans, scholarships, etc.
  6. Attend college representative meetings in the College and Career Center. Check the College and Career Calendar on our homepage to see scheduled visit ( Naviance emails about visits will be sent if you have a particular college on your lists.
  7. Visit as many college campuses as possible. Colleges are happy to make arrangements for such visits.
  8. Students may be excused for college visits in the College and Career Center as long as the permission forms are submitted in advance. 
  9. Remember that these visits should not affect the satisfactory completion of your senior year courses or jeopardize your offer of admission.


Dream (or “Reach”) Schools

A dream school is a college where your academic credentials fall in the lower end, or even below, the school's average range for the cohort of students accepted the previous year. Dream schools might be long shots, but they should still be possible. Don't let the sticker price of a financial reach school scare you off! Financial need, academic strength, and a college's desire to have you on campus can all influence your financial aid award and make the cost of attendance more manageable. Learn more from the Princeton Review about cost of attendance, at:

Target Schools

A target school is one where your academic credentials (grades, SAT or ACT scores, and class rank,) fall well within the school's average range for the most recently accepted class. There are no guarantees, but it's reasonable to expect to be accepted to several of your target schools. More detailed information is available to you from the Princeton Review at the following websites.

Safety Schools

A safety school is one where your academic credentials exceed the school's range for the average first-year student. You should be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools. Like your dream and target schools, these should also be colleges you'd be happy to attend. In addition to admissions criteria, it's a good idea to think about financial aid when creating your list of safety schools - make sure there is at least one school that you know your family can afford on that list. The Princeton Review offers helpful information on how financial aid works, at:



Five Ways Ed Pays is a document that discusses five powerful ways a college degree can transform your life and lifestyle. Whether it is at a Community College, CSU, UC, or private school, continue to explore career options. Feel free to review the document below, or access via a separate browser at:
* Disclaimer: Campbell Union High School District and Del Mar High School cannot be responsible for the content, accuracy or accessibility of external link sites referenced on this web page. External link sites are not supervised by or within the control of CUHSD or Del Mar High School.