Have you guys seen some of the recent Zits comic strips? The teenager is making up his potential college lists.....the ranking criterion seems to be best party schools....and he just doesn't get his parents' concern that maybe that shouldn't be the sole criterion!
That said, it's best that parents and students come up with a list together. In our family, we bought a bunch of college guides and leafed through them, talked to the GC, talked to parents/students a few years older, and together we cobbled together some lists.
If I came across a school that seemed interesting to me, based on what my student was seeking, I'd pass the info along....and tell student why I thought it might be a good fit....and he would check it out with an open mind. Student might hear about a school, think it was interesting, tell me about it and why it was interesting, and we could put it on the list. Some schools I proposed, he wasn't enthused about, and he told me why--and they did not make the list. Some schools he proposed, and I or dad were not enthused about, and we discussed why, and those schools didn't make the list.
There was no reason to be adversarial...we were all wanting to achieve the same goal. I guess we ultimately had veto power, but we never felt that way. Our boys always knew we were on their team.
Two of my sons ended up applying early decision, and ended up very happy at their first choice schools. One son ended up applying to and getting into 11 schools....at the beginning of application season he was equally drawn in two really different directions and we wanted to help him keep his options open because seniors go through so much maturation. He chose a school that was great for what he thought he wanted. Along his college journey, he discovered a new area of interest, and his school wasn't so great for that....but it wouldn't have been on his radar in high school anyway.