College Confidential’s “Dean,” Sally Rubenstone, put together 25 of her best tips. So far, the "25 Tips from the Dean" eBook has helped more than 10K students choose a college, get in, and pay for it. Get your free copy: http://goo.gl/9zDJTM
Before you ask which colleges to apply to, please consider the following:
1. Know your cost constraints. Talk to your parents and get an idea of what they are willing to contribute to your college costs. Find the net price calculators on some colleges' web sites and try them to get an idea of financial aid estimates to see if those colleges are realistic on just need-based financial aid (if not, you would need merit scholarships to attend those colleges). Note that your state of residency matters for public schools, so please indicate that. Financial aid for out-of-state students at public schools is usually minimal to nonexistent. Avoid making assumptions about cost and financial aid for any given college or class of colleges (e.g. public, private) without checking specifically for your situation. Finally, stating that you "need financial aid" does not allow others to help you as much as stating that your "parents' contribution cannot be more than $____" (specify per year or over the entire bachelor's degree).
2. If you have any intended college majors or other academic or professional goals (pre-med, pre-law, pre-PhD, type of work desired after graduation, etc.), please state them, because the appropriateness of some colleges (particularly smaller ones) may depend on them. If you are undecided, please state that (and indicate what range of subjects you are undecided between). Be aware that more obscure majors may limit your choices.
3. If you have any non-academic preferences (region, size, weather, urban/suburban/rural, things to do on campus or in the area, social scene, political scene, fraternities/sororities, religious environment, etc.), please state them. Be aware that being too picky on these preferences can eliminate many otherwise good fit colleges for you (you may want to indicate which preferences are strong preferences and which are weak or tie-breaker preferences).
4. Weighted GPA provided by your high school is typically meaningless to everyone else here, and to colleges that you are applying to. The only exception is if it is weighted using the standards of a college you are applying to. However, it is still meaningless for other colleges. If you want people to make suggestions based on your GPA, please give your unweighted GPA plus some context, such as the types of courses you have been taking.
5. Your test scores typically matter, so indicating your SAT and/or ACT scores, and whether you may have National Merit status, can help others help you find colleges and scholarships.