* High School Counselors: Your counselor is a great person with whom to begin discussing your college concerns. Ask him or her to guide you in taking college prep courses throughout high school. The counselors at your local community college can also be helpful.
* College Catalogues: These catalogues--which give basic information about the student body, facilities and departments--may often be found in your high school library or counseling department. If not there, try your local community college.
* Videos: Many schools offer videotapes of their campuses, which may be available free from the school. There are also services, such as College Home Videos of Philadelphia, that sell videos for $7 and up. Call (800) 248-7177.
* College Guide Books: These books, sold at most bookstores, often contain less hype and more information than catalogues and videos. Such books can include subjective tidbits from students on matters ranging from which departments are seen as strong or weak to the best pizza on campus.
* College Fairs: These may occur on your high school campus when college representatives come to your school to tell you about their schools. Speak to recruiters and collect brochures. Such fairs may also occur at other locations.
* Campus Visits: Try to visit colleges in which you are interested.
Arrange an interview with someone from the admissions office, ideally when classes are in session, but no later than the fall of your senior year in high school.
Question that person to get the facts you need to know: student-to-faculty ratio, most popular majors, how many students drop out by the sophomore year, etc.
Roam the campus after the interview, discussing the school's pros and cons with students. Find out if services such as tutoring or computer facilities are up to par.
Stay overnight, if possible, and get a campus tour by a student. Many schools can arrange this. Then check out the facilities that would be important to you--the foreign language lab if you are a French student, for example, or the campus stage if you are a drama major.
Consider talking with past and present students, especially if no time exists for a campus visit. Let the admissions office put you in touch.