I teach at a school just outside Cincinnati where a ton of the kids end up at area colleges. Not that that's bad (I went to a school around here, too) but I wonder sometimes if the kids area aware of the possibilities.
Today the juniors took the PSAT in the morning (which cut out my precalc classes) and I figured that my Algebra 2 kids wouldn't be in the mood to start a new topic after quizzing yesterday. I brought them down to the media center (luckily there were no other classes signed up) to get on the College Board website to do some college searching. Ann Gregson sent me the activity last year and I used it with my precalc kids one day when the seniors were out but wished that I'd done it with the college prep kids, too. (I actually couldn't find the activity this morning when I was trying to get organized so I ended up typing up my own. Then Ann sent me the link on google docs. Duh.)
It's been fun to see what the kids have came up with. Some ended up with 0 possible colleges while some had 14. One kid told me that he had several schools in mind (none of which showed up in his results) but his parents were pushing him to think about another. It just so happened that the other showed up on his list. I told him to write it really big on the chart I'd given them to fill in. He said he was going to highlight it. :)
Another girl told me that all of her results were from Christian colleges and she's atheist.
I know college isn't just about numbers. It's also about the atmosphere at a school and how comfortable you feel there. But a lot of these kids were shocked when they saw tuition at a certain school or that it didn't have a program that they wanted.
I have an older cousin who was doing her college search when I was probably in junior high. What I remember about it was that she was looking for a college whose name would look good on a sweatshirt. She ended up at Bowling Green and did great, but you have to wonder what else she could've done if she had known her options.