Another thing to think about in narrowing your list is how you feel about general education requirements. Most schools want your undergraduate education to have both breadth (taking classes across various disciplines) and depth (your major). But there are very different approaches to this. On one end of the spectrum is Columbia, with its core currriculum, which prescribes specific classes that take up nearly 2 years worth of classes. The other end of the spectrum is Brown, with its open curriculum. You have to complete a major, but otherwise are free to take whatever you want. Most schools are somewhere in between. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. If you have a preference (some people do, some don’t), you should look at the requirements of various schools. You can generally find the requirements by poking around a school's website, checking on graduation requirements or searching for terms like distribution requirements or general education requirements.
Pretty much every school is going to have sports teams and parties. The question is how much sports and drunken idiocy dominate the social life of the school. But don’t assume that being an athlete or liking drinking are incompatible with serious intellectual interests. You’ll probably want a school with no Greek life or low levels of participation.
I’d quibble a bit with a couple of descriptions of schools above. I don’t think Yale's reputation is for being preprofessional, which is not to say that it doesn’t send plenty of people on to professional schools. University of Pennsylvania's reputation is for being extremely preprofessional (ie, lots of people knowing what job they want or feeling pressured to know and lots of decisions about everything from classes to EC's being made with an eye towards their resumes) and for being the social ivy, lots of parties, lots of emphasis on having a very busy social life. It’s certainly a great school and you can get a terrific education, but I suspect it’s not the school for you.
I would urge you to get your hands on a book called The Fiske Guide to Colleges. Each year they survey students about many of the factors that make up the environment of each school and do a write up. It has a reputation for accuracy. This will help you get a sense of what each school is like beyond what you can tell from numerical data. Of course, visiting is even better, but that will obviously be hard for you. And if you do manage a trip here to visit schools, it will help narrow things down for that.
I went to Wesleyan in the 80's, when it was a bit smaller than it is now and I found it plenty big. Of course what’s too small and what’s too big are very individual tastes, but even a small school of say 2000 undergrads is going to feel big after your secondary school.
Use rankings like US News and World Report, not as the gospel about which school is "best" or because there’s some important difference between #10 and #15, but as a general check to make sure you’re not overlooking any schools with good reputations that you want to learn about. Chances are there are some excellent schools that you’ve never heard of.
I’m a former tax lawyer. I have set up not-for-profits. Setting up a not-for-profit is complicated and time consuming, as are the required ongoing state and federal requirements. There are companies that will do it for you, but it’s going to cost a good chunk of money. Also, while I haven’t looked, I’d be surprised if minors are allowed to incorporate or be board members or officers of a corporation, even a not-for-profit corporation.
Further, what are you, a sophomore or a junior? What are your plans for this entity once you leave for college?
@carbmom "She doesn't allow her little brother or even her parents into the bathroom when she's showering behind the curtain now."
If she won’t allow you in the bathroom while she’s in the shower, does that mean that single sex communal bathrooms are also a problem? IME, most kids grow up with a one person at a time bathroom and expect that level of privacy. Then they need to use a locker room or they go off to overnight camp or college or somewhere else with communal bathrooms and they adjust to the different expectations more or less without a hitch. (Yes, not everyone. But most kids.) So you need to separate out the communal issue from the co-ed issue. And I understand why a parent who never lived with a co-ed communal bathroom would find it a very uncomfortable idea. But I’m going to urge you to listen to the experience of many of us here who did live with that and who are telling you it’s no big deal. As I said earlier, weird for the first week, then just life.
If you really think it through, once you’ve gotten past the communal bathroom hurdle (there’s someone in the next shower while you’re showering or someone brushing their teeth while you’re peeing) and assuming the bathrooms are set up so that you don’t have to step naked out of the shower for the whole world to see, what does it really matter if the person in the next shower stall or at the sink is of the opposite sex?
Someone was concerned with guys flaunting it. You don’t have to have a co-ed bathroom for that to happen. Sophomore year, I lived in a co-ed house with 7 people. At the beginning of the year, one of the guys would walk around the house in his briefs. In fact, don’t think it was about flaunting it. I think he was comfortable like that and figured the rest of us would be, too. In any case, the women in the house didn’t like it, so we told him to cover up more. And he did. End of problem.
I’m entirely sure that if there was a problem with men (or women) walking around overexposed, it’s a problem the residence life staff would deal with quickly.
At many schools, the admissions committee cares about what the head football coach thinks of football players. It’s hard to imagine they’re much interested in what he thinks about a non-football player he met once. He’s unlikely to be able to say much about you that will add to their sense of you are beyond what’s in your application. And to the extent he has pull and can ask for the committee to give someone extra consideration just because he’s asking, that sort of asset is finite and he’s going to use it for his team, not for the kid of a friend of a friend.