Where are you on your "what's next" journey?

Figuring out what you to do after high school is a lot easier if you know something about the steps you should take and the resources to help you take them.  Although this process isn't always so clear cut, the stages of this journey sort of look like this:

  • Exploring your educational options
  • Determining your price range
  • Maximizing the money that's just waiting for you to take it
  • Strengthening your college resume'
  • Identifying your ideal short list
  • Building your best application
  • Comparing your financial aid award offers
  • Negotiating your right price
  • Making your final choice

We've found a bunch of resources that can simplify be really helpful in working your way through this process.  Better yet, many of them are free, very inexpensive, or free with the option to spend some money only if you need more in-depth services. First, we've listed a couple of resources that provide some some wonderful guidance about the whole process.  Then we've provided a series of tools that are roughly organized by the different college search stages listed above. In some cases, these resources might show up in multiple categories. That's because they do more than one thing well.

If you find other resources that you think we ought to include on this page, please let us know!  You can contact us through our contact page here.

Comprehensive Resources (or as grandpa used to say, "soup to nuts")

If you are just diving in to the college search process for the first time, or you feel like you've been thrown into the deep end of the pool without swimming lessons or a life jacket, then these resources might be for you. Each of them gives you a bunch of free educational content and guidance so that you can start to get a handle on how to think strategically about the college search and make sense of why to do what when.

SimpliCollege makes navigating the college process simple at a price that anyone can afford.  By providing a roadmap that is easy to follow, SimpliCollege helps you minimize stress throughout the process so you can be clear, confident, and proud in your college journey and beyond.

The SFC Learning Center is a FREE resource provided by Strategies for College for families during the college discovery process and provides answers to common questions. We educate parents about the process and demystify the steps to finding a perfect college academically, emotionally and with financial feasibility. Learn more here.

College Coaching Network provides college planning and scholarship services to families that need additional help navigating the college planning process.  Our curriculum provides a one-on-one training experience without the costs of hiring a private college admissions adviser.

Exploring Your Educational Options

What's next after high school?  Before you assume anything (like trade school, a liberal arts college, work in fast food, or go on tour with your favorite jam band), take some time to consider who you are, who you want to be, what gets you up in the morning, and what calms your nerves at night.  Taking some time to answer these questions will clear away a lot of the fog and stress that so often comes with demanding an answer to the question, "What's next?"

Crash Course is a board game that challenges players to navigate their first college semester, balancing academics. relationships, stress, money, and a few surprises. It's a fantastic way to start a deeper conversation about succeeding in college and finding the right fit.

At The Core’s powerful self assessment and career guidance for teens goes beyond online quizzes and snap judgments. Through a series of one-on-one interviews with a trained facilitator, students identify their strongest personal traits, strengths, challenges, preferences, and values so they can make better choices about college, career, and life.

Your path to training, practical education and career growth, change and options that do not require a traditional four-year college program begins here. From HVAC repair to high-level software coding and development, we help you get the training and preparation you need. Connect with educational and training providers that will get you right to work.

Determining Your Price Range

The whole point of going to college is so that after you graduate, you gain access to a world of new and exciting opportunities.  But if you graduate from college with a boatload of debt, many of the most intriguing possibilities won't be options you can take because they don't pay enough to cover your student loan payments.  So one the most important thing you can do early in your college search is figure out a realistic price range that considers ALL of the education you need after high school as well as ALL of the resources from which you can pull money to help pay the your undergrad bill (e.g., private scholarships, tuition incentive programs, and loans or income share agreements).

Quatro is a revolutionary new platform designed to help families make all 4 years of college costs more manageable in advance. Use your price to find the right balance between savings, cash from income, and financing to maximize affordability.

Their Free College Money Report is a fantastic and free way to get critical insights into how much different types of colleges and universities will interpret your financial situation and assess how much they think you can afford to pay before you dive down the college search rabbit hole.

Since 2002, they have been on a mission to educate parents about the strategies to save for college, pay for college, and still retire comfortably. Today, The College Funding Coach has grown into a national network of experts who are showing families across the country how to make higher education affordable.

My Kid's College Choice applies the "Upside Down College Search" framework to ensure that your final college list is composed of schools you can actually afford.  Instead of picking a college and then figuring out how to pay for it, My Kid's College Choice flips the script.

Maximizing the money that's just waiting for you to take it

Amazingly, there is all kinds of money floating around out there to help someone pay for college.  In addition to completing the FAFSA so that you can be in the mix for the traditional sources of federal and/or state level financial aid based on your financial need, there are pretty impressive sources of scholarship money that you can leverage for no or low costs.  In most cases, it's just about taking the time and understanding that effort as a strategic investment.

The Scholarship System is all about strategies to help students and their families pay for college. We’ve created a step-by-step process to teach ANY STUDENT how to secure college funding, saving families more than $1.2 Million so far.

ScholarshipOwl dramatically speeds up your scholarship application time. They match you with the awards that fit your personality, grades, lifestyle, and more. Then they use your initial application to give you a head start on any other scholarships of your choice.

Feeling frustrated (and maybe a little overwhelmed) by the college funding process?  Like no one's on your side - but they expect you to have all the answers?  We teach you everything you need to know about college funding so that you can create a plan on your terms.

Many students have developed a unique combination of talents, traits, and skills.  But how do you find out which colleges and universities will reward your specific attributes and aptitudes with scholarship money?  The Merit Scholarship List gives you an exhaustive catalog of the myriad of merit scholarships offered by specific higher education institutions.

Strengthening your College Resume'

OnToCollege Test Prep provides all the content, motivation, and strategies necessary to increase test scores and scholarship dollars, ensuring students become two- or four-year college graduates with minimal debt.

At NCSA, our firsthand knowledge of college athletics, combined with our advanced online technology, expansive college coach network and proven recruiting methods, helps you take control of the recruiting experience and find your best college options.

Volunteering can change your life and the lives of others.  Their FREE app helps you find, request, and track volunteer projects for your college application so you can show the full depth and breadth of who you really are.

In an era of online and impersonal test prep tools, FinnPrep succeeds because we apply an approach that is tried and true: students learn more and learn faster from an in-person teacher who knows them and cares about their academic progress.

Identifying Your Ideal Short List

Ask real students real questions about real experiences at real colleges.  Get real answers from people who are just like you.


The College Viability App crunches thousands of data points collected by the US Department of Education to compare key financial and enrollment viability metrics. Families and students use these clear and simply data displays to compare institution and ensure that their college of choice will stand the test of time.


Find the best colleges for you by creating a custom college list.  One of the best under-the-radar sites for insights on how to use data (instead of just anecdotes or reputations) to find colleges that are both affordable AND educationally effective.

The College Scorecard from the US Department of Education provides some useful data on salaries by field of study from individual colleges and universities. Although there are some good reasons to not put too much weight on average salaries after college, this data can also be useful in making comparisons.

College Navigator might not be the sexiest college search tool, but it's got the most complete set of data.  After all, College Navigator is run by the US Department of Education, and their data is what everyone else uses anyway. So you might as well go to the source, right?

Corsava breaks the often overwhelming question of "what kind of college experience is the right fit for me?" down into an engaging and interactive card game that helps students organize and prioritize the characteristics of a college experience that fits them best.

Building Your Best Application

Inline is an in-browser software tool that provides strategic advice about how to produce your best possible Common App application.  Inline also offers support for supplemental, college-specific essays, including an inside view on how those essays would be evaluated by a college admissions officer.


Nobody gives out more, or better, free college essay writing guidance that the Wow Writing Workshop.  Best of all, the guidance they provide applies to writing for school, for business, and for life.  They gave TuitionFit a link to their book on how to write an effective college essay for FREE.  How cool is that?

College Coaching Network provides college planning and scholarship services to families that need additional help navigating the college planning process.  Our curriculum provides a one-on-one training experience without the costs of hiring a private college admissions adviser.

Comparing Your Financial Aid Award Offers

Since 2002, they have been on a mission to educate parents about the strategies to save for college, pay for college, and still retire comfortably. Today, The College Funding Coach has grown into a national network of experts who are showing families across the country how to make higher education affordable.

So now you have at least one fancy acceptance letter and the financial aid award offer that goes with it.  The letter makes sense ... but the financial aid offer?? College Funding Planners can help you interpret and compare offers so have all the right information to make an informed choice.

here's another federal government site that helps you compare college costs and financial aid offers to see how they might impact you down the road. In addition, other pages on this site provide great information about managing student debt.

Negotiating Your Right Price

In addition to laying out a pathway through the college search journey, one particularly robust feature of SimpliCollege is their extensive set of financial aid appeal letters that provide examples for almost every conceivable situation.

SwiftStudent is a free repository of financial aid appeals / requests letter templates for students. We empowers students to advocate for themselves by ensuring that students submit the correct information, contact details, and supporting documents so that financial aid officers are more able to assist the student in overcoming financial barriers to higher education.

Negotiating a better price at a college or university isn't all that different from negotiating a better price for a house or a car.  It requires strategy, leverage, and a deep understanding of how to make the best possible argument.  College Funding Planners knows how to put all of these necessities together and, using TuitionFit comparison pricing data, helps you advocate with confidence.

Solutions for Tuition has helped hundreds of families appeal financial aid decisions and negotiate for a better price. No matter your personal financial circumstances, they have successfully helped a family like yours.

Making Your Final Choice

If you've really put an effort into your college search process, by now making a final choice should be easy.  But that isn't because one school should stand out more than any other.  It's because by now you should have realized that no college or university is perfect.  And you've probably figured out that your success in college and after college is going to depend a lot on what you do over the next four years . . . no matter where you decided to enroll.  So if you've plugged in through the search process, you now have a final set of college options that will all work well enough . . . and it will be up to you to put it all together.

So congratulations.  And get ready for an adventure.