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One of the easiest ways to start a list of potential colleges or training programs is to start with the people you know or “word of mouth.” If you haven’t already heard the stories of how Aunt Sue met Uncle Joe in college (or law school) or about your teacher’s favorite (or least favorite) professor or how your Mom’s Friend’s Uncle found his dream job after learning in culinary school skills needed to be a chef…ask!

It is ok to ask adults and older siblings of your friends or your siblings friends (you get the idea) in your community what kind of education or training they have and where they went to school to get it. Yes, this is a simple and direct approach. All you have to have is the courage to politely ask people about their education or training.

Asking politely is very important! And, you may be surprised by the answers. For example, some people have fabulous jobs and experiences and did not go to college.

Here is a list of people you might ask…even if their job is not what you want to do with your career. The goal (in this post) is to find potential colleges and programs, not necessarily specific majors or degrees.

  • Family members, including extended family
  • Older friends (who are in college or a program)
  • Friends of older siblings
  • Parents of friends
  • The owner or manager of a local business
  • Your minister/preacher/rabbi/spiritual advisor
  • Teachers, coaches and other school personnel
  • School counselors
  • Other people in your community, e.g., your physician or health care provider, the mechanic who fixes your parent’s car


From Starting Your Potential List of Colleges/Programs: Intro and Wikipedia (Part 1) – ways to start your potential list of colleges/programs:

  • Local experiences (Part 2): considering local colleges/programs that are familiar (e.g., because you drive by them every week)
  • Word of mouth (Part 3): knowing about options because you have family, friends or advisors who attended those colleges/programs or who work there [FEATURED IN THIS POST]
  • Rankings (Part 4): choosing potential options based on a credible evaluation that ranks the opportunities
  • Role models or prominent people (Part 5): adding options to your potential list based on the education of successful people, athletic teams, etc. you have read or heard about or seen
  • Browsing (Part 6): finding potential options by accident or as you search for information for other reasons


Share your examples. Who in your community have you asked or do you want to ask about their education or training?