At all stages of of our lives, we’re expected to make life changing decisions based partly on our experience, skills and interests. But what happens when all those variables change? Below are 100 free tools that can help you tune into your natural strengths, hobbies, interests, goals and skill sets no matter what part of life you’re in. High school students, recent college graduates, military personnel and mid-career professionals looking to shake things up can find what they need here.
High school students and those going back to school can refer to this list for tools and questions that will help them compare colleges.
- Princeton Review College Rankings: The Princeton Review’s controversial but illustrious college rankings list can help you find the best colleges based on your priorities: academics, quality of life, demographics, extracurricular activities and more.
- U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges: This list is also a must-read for parents and prospectives. Browse by program type, geographic location, academics and more.
- Online Education Database: If you’re interested in pursuing an online education, turn to this resource for school overviews, rankings and more.
- Peterson’s: Peterson’s College Search helps you put your priorities and needs in order, prompting you to fill in boxes for admissions, demographics, location, academics and campus life, which helps you narrow down your search.
- College Navigator: The National Center for Education Statistics has put together a toolkit for students wanting to research American colleges and universities.
- CHEA: The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides information about college accreditation, including searchable directories and contact information for the six regional accrediting agencies.
- American Association of State Colleges and Universities: Here you can find information about 430 public colleges and universities in the United States.
- College Choice Variables: Print out this sheet or design a chart of your own to take with you on college visits. You can easily rate schools based on placement, campus resources, location, size, housing and other factors.
- College Board: Search colleges by name or by major, cost or location using this tool.
- More Tips for Choosing — For Students Only: The Seattle Times’ guide asks students to be honest with themselves when choosing a college.
Finding the Right Match
When it comes to picking the right school, you want to make sure that your experience is going to give you everything you need socially, academically, emotionally and professionally. Below are tools to help you find the right match.
- Quick Facts About Private Colleges and Universities: If you’re trying to decide between a private and public school, get the facts about private college tuition, diversity and more.
- The Women’s College Coalition: Search all-female colleges and universities with this tool.
- Counselor-O-Matic: This beta project from The Princeton Review is designed to help you find the best college for your needs and personality.
- The Right Way to Pick a College: This article helps students ask themselves the right questions when picking a college.
- College MatchMaker: CollegeBoard’s MatchMaker tool evaluates your preference for several different qualifiers, including size, public vs. private, and setting.
- Find the Right Colleges for You: Use the College Matching Wizard and other government tools to discover the schools that fit you best.
- What kind of college is right for you?: This fun test from gURL.com will help you figure out your priorities.
- Choosing a College That’s Right for You: This article has a lot of tips for students who need help with their college search.
- Scholarships.com: This tool will help you find ways to pay for the school of your dreams.
Military, School or Career?
After high school (or college), what plan is right for you? Here you’ll find tips and tools to help you figure out if you’re bound for vocational school, the military, a job or college.
- What should you do after high school?: Find out what kind of school–if any–is right for you.
- The Life After College Forum: Join in the discussions on this forum to explore options for life after college.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Read up on your dream careers to find out what qualifications you need to succeed in the field.
- I Survived High School, but Can I Survive Europe with No Parents?: Rick Steves’ daughter Jackie gets honest about her upcoming Europe trip–alone.
- What Should You Have Done After High School?: If you haven’t graduated high school yet, it’s not too late for you. Take this fun quiz to find out what you should do after senior year.
- eLearnersAdvisor: This tool evaluates how well you would do in an online education setting. You can also search online degrees and programs here.
- Is the Army Right for Me?: Army.com’s guide will help you determine if you’re cut out for the army.
- How to Work Abroad After College: Who says you have to get a boring office job when you graduate? This popular trend buys time and lets you see the world.
- 10 Steps to Joining the Military: This 10-step guide will help you figure out which branch of the military is the best for you, or if you’re better off going to college or getting a job.
- MyFuture.com: This website has great tools for helping young people decide the next step, from finding jobs and internships to living on your own to joining the military.
Personality tests can give you insight into your goals, your natural skills and abilities and even your interests.
- Which Career will Suit Your Personality?: Are you an office person or do you crave work in the field? Find out here.
- Quiz: The Brain Test: Do you think with the right or left side of your brain? Knowing can tune you into the types of jobs and skills that come most naturally to you.
- Test of Analytical Skills: Test your analytical skills as a way to narrow down your career and major interests.
- Work Interest Quiz: This quiz aims to show you two work types that match your personality.
- How Well Do You Know Yourself?: Before making any life-changing decisions, discover how much you really know about yourself.
- Career Test: This test matches your answers and personality to 40 different careers.
- Kalil’s Personality Quiz: This quiz finds out your color personality and then determines your strengths and weaknesses.
- The Testing Room: The Testing Room involves quizzes that determine personal drive, working style, thinking style and more. Basic reports are free.
- Human Resource Department: This ten-question test evaluates your emotional health as well as your working style.
- What’s Your Personality Type?: This quiz follows the popular Extravert, Thinker, Judger, Perceiver, Sensor, Introvert, Intuitive system.
Identifying Your Interests
Sure you like baseball and naptime, but how do those translate into work-related skills? Learn how to identify your interests the right way and make a living off your hobbies here.
- Careers - What’s Your Interest?: This tool displays lists of related jobs underneath questions about hobbies and interests.
- Convert Your Hobbies to Lucrative Careers: This guide gives examples of how different hobbies can translate into careers in early childhood education, activities and program coordination and others.
- Use Your Hobbies and Interests: Monster’s Career Advice section encourages job candidates to tap into their hobbies and interests during interviews, the job search and when evaluating your skills.
Determining Level of Education
How much education do you need? Don’t waste your time going to graduate school if it won’t get you any closer to a career, but keep in mind special licensures and continuing education requirements for your field.
- Grad School: Georgetown’s guide features many questions that students need to ask themselves before applying to grad school.
- Professional Teaching Standards Available Certificates: Learn about the kinds of certification you need to become a teacher.
- Career Guide to Industries: Research industries like health care, manufacturing, transportation, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and others to determine how much education and training you need.
- Technical Schools Guide: Research technical schools on this site to learn about starting an entry-level career with less training.
- Are Graduate Studies Right for You?: Indiana University helps students decide whether a graduate-level education is necessary for their needs and career choices.
- Making the Decision to Study Medicine: This website gives prospective med students a realistic look at medical school, including the number of years you have to dedicate to education and choosing a specialty.
- What jobs can you get with an associate’s degree in business administration?: See how far an associate’s degree will get you in the business field here.
Picking a Major
Colleges these days, especially liberal arts schools, encourage students to keep an open mind and take a lot of different classes as a way to explore themselves and their interests. How, then, can it be easy to pick a major with all those choices? Read below to find out.
- What Can I do With a Major In…?: This tool will help you explore careers in the arts, business, the sciences, service and social sciences.
- How to Pick a Major: This article follows the flip-flop process many students go through when settling on a major.
- How to Pick a Major That’s Right for You: This presentation has lots of tips for college students.
- Find Work Outside Your Major: If picking a major is stressing you out, or if you’re afraid that you picked the wrong major, read this article to understand how your major doesn’t always determine your future career.
- Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path: This detailed guide will help you examine your interests and special skills.
- Majors Search: Type in a major, browse by category or find out what major you need for a particular career path here.
- Five Steps to Choosing a College Major: These tips include assessing your interests, exploring career possibilities and considering your values.
- List of College Majors in USA: Not all colleges offer every major on the list, but this guide can be helpful for exploring new areas of study.
- The 10 Most Worthless College Majors: Take this humorous article with a grain of salt before selling out to a more "practical" major.
- Does Your Minor Matter?: After stressing about your major, should you worry about a minor? This article will help you out.
Evaluating Skills and Experience
Does a retail job and computer workshop add up to enough experience? Learn all about evaluating your skills and selling transferrable skills here.
- Discover Your Career Skills: This 30-question test will help you tap into the natural abilities that will serve you well in the workplace.
- Online Career Assessment Review for Job Seekers: Here you will find a review of different career tools and assessment tools.
- Testing Your Career Competencies: MonsterTrak’s evaluation system asks you to rate each skills statement to learn more about your qualifications.
- Internship Checklist: Use this tool to rate your internship and find out if you’re ready for the next step.
- Are You Ready for the Real World?: Use this guide as a way to evaluate your preparedness for a real job and real working lifestyle.
- Transferrable Skills: Learning how to sell transferrable skills on a resume or interview can be extremely valuable for a candidate without much job experience.
- Assess Your Skills and Interests: This guide will help you figure out the skills you can sell during a job interview.
- Evaluate your skills and passion to find job that fits you: This Tucson Citizen article has very valuable tips for discovering a career path.
- Job-related skills: Which of your skills will be useful to you on the job? Find out how to make the distinction here.
- Career Planning: Skills: This transferrable skills checklist can open up new career possibilities that you didn’t think you qualified for.
Choosing a Career Path
Whether you’re starting out in the workforce or considering a career switch, these tools can help you map out a plan.
- GigZig: Career Paths of Real People: This excellent tool follows the real career paths of web workers.
- How to Choose a Career Path: Suite 101’s guide asks readers to take the following into consideration: an open mind, hobbies and a broad education.
- Health Care Careers: The AMA has put together this resource center to help those interested in health care learn about career paths and salary ranges.
- AfterCollege: Search for entry-level jobs and internships on this site.
- Choosing a Career Path: This self-help guide offers up tips and scenarios that can give your career planning a boost.
- CareerOneStop: Here you can research salary and benefits information, different careers, education and training options and a lot more.
- Career Voyages: This government resource features high growth industries, emerging industries and all kinds of information and about career planning and the job market. Use the Career Advisors to answer questions about mapping out your path.
- O*NET Career Exploration Tools: Tools featured here include an ability profiler, interest profiler, work importance locator and more.
- Virginia Career View: Access career assessment tools, information about professional licensure and many other career resources from Virginia Tech’s website.
- JobProfiles.org: This site is great for researching different career paths and the education programs that get you on track.
Considering a Career Switch
Hardly anyone stays in the same job for their entire professional life anymore. Before you make a hasty career switch, though, use these tools to find out if you’re leaving for the right reasons and to plan out a viable option for your next job.
- Adult Career Changers: Use Kuder’s tools to find out if and when you should make a career switch.
- Overcoming Your Career Change Fear: 5 Expert Tips: This guide recommends understanding your fears and working with your financial situation.
- Career Changes: Confused about planning your switch? This resource will help.
- Get a Better Job: Learn about promotions and career moves here.
- Are You Missing the Point of Being a Freelancer?: Make sure you understand what it’s like "on the other side" before making the switch to freelancing full-time.
- Should You Quit Your Job?: This quiz may help you determine whether you’re ready for a new job.
- The 10-Step Plan to Career Change: Make your career switch an organized endeavor with this resource.
- Before You Quit Your Job: This guide urges readers to consider several factors before leaving their jobs too hastily.
- Quiz: Is It Time to Quit Your Job?: Here’s another quiz that can help you decide if it’s time to quit.
- Five Situations When You Shouldn’t Change Careers: Are you quitting because you want to challenge yourself in new ways or because you hate your boss? Learn the difference here.
Life Tools to Help You Choose
Choosing a career and college also means that you’ll have to consider things like living expenses, salary, moving costs and more. Use these tools to determine which factors are most important to you and how you’ll deal with changes.
- Salary Calculator: Find out how much you’re worth in areas around the country here.
- Cost of Living Wizard: Determine the cost of living around the U.S. using this tool.
- What are your skills worth on the open market? A guide to salary surveys online: Before demanding a raise based on one online salary guide, read this article.
- Industry Profile: Research industry statistics by state with this tool.
- Money Basics: What are Your Priorities?: Find out what your financial priorities are before taking a job that pays a lot but soaks up all your time or that is fun but hardly delivers a paycheck.
- What are Your Priorities?: This article helps professionals evaluate their workplace priorities and expectations.
- The Moving Cost Estimate: Use this tool to find out how much it will cost to move from one state to another.
- homefair: This excellent planning resource has tools for assessing cost of living, salaries, city statistics, renting, buying, moving, determining the best city for you and a lot more.
- A College Far Away From Home: This blog post helps prospective college students research the pros and cons of going to school far away.
- Consider Relocating: The Riley Guide has put together a list of resources you’ll need if you want to relocate, including demographics and statistics for different cities, real estate guides, school and health care directories, cost of living, and relocation guides.