College Application Spreadsheet (Free Template + Guide)

Deciding your preferences for college can be a huge undertaking. Excluding your emotional attachments to the prestige of certain schools, you have to worry about your grades, extracurricular activities, and everything else associated with qualifying (Hopefully, your parents had a good 529 plan in place). Building a college application spreadsheet can help to take some of the stress out of the situation.

This guide will show you how to build a college spreadsheet from scratch in Google Sheets as well as some tips for the process. If you don’t want to build your own spreadsheet feel free to use our college application spreadsheet template.

Why Is a College Planning Spreadsheet Important?

You must put a lot of thought into which college you wish to attend. It’s not only an emotional decision but can also be a financial one. Data is essential when choosing the right College or University for you. A college spreadsheet provides you with the framework for drawing reliable comparisons between different schools and make it easier to check off the list of tasks for your applications.

Deciding Where to Make the College Spreadsheet Template

Now that we know why making a college list spreadsheet is essential (like my reading list spreadsheet for New Years), let’s look at the best program for creating the spreadsheet. Every software has pros and cons, and the decision is ultimately up to you.

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is the industry standard spreadsheet tool, and it has several features that make it perfect for use. It has a lot of online support. However, Excel can be difficult to use, especially if you’re a beginner. It has no collaborative features, so there may be better options if you want to share the spreadsheet with your friends and family.


Airtable is another excellent option for creating a college tracker spreadsheet, as it is effortless and has fantastic organization options. It also has features that allow you to filter and sort your data. However, it is less than ideal option for collaboration, and some of its features are stuck behind a paywall. Compared to Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, this software can be unfamiliar to many users.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is slowly becoming an industry standard spreadsheet software, mainly because it has a lot of online support and allows for seamless collaboration among various users. It is also accessible from any device, so you can load it up without taking your spreadsheet offline. However, it does require the internet to function and has limited functionality compared to software like Excel.

For creating a college spreadsheet example, we will use Google Sheets as we don’t need to do a lot of complex calculations. Google Sheets will also make it easy to create a shareable template.

Things to Add to a College Application Spreadsheet

After choosing software to make the college decision spreadsheet template, the next thing to do is to take the list of the colleges and import them into the sheet. In the cells, you can add data containing general info, such as links to the college’s websites and their locations. You can also create a cell that can input any additional data about the college.

Every individual can create a college decision spreadsheet catering to their specific requirements per college. However, there are a few things you must add to it. These are:

  1. ACT/SAT Test Policy
  2. Average GPA
  3. Average Test Scores
  4. Cost of Attendance
  5. Acceptance Rate
  6. Average Need-Based Aid
  7. 4-Year Graduation Rate
  8. Average Merit Awards for Freshmans Without Financial Needs

If you wish to be a bit more advanced, you can add data such as:

  1. Number of Undergrad Students
  2. Early Decision Rates in case they are an option
  3. Early Action Rates in case they are an option
  4. The major you are interested in
  5. CSS Profile Form requirements
  6. Percentage of students graduating with debt.
  7. How much is the debt
  8. College endowment size
  9. Percentage of need met
  10. Percentage of first-year students without merit aid

You can also add optional data like:

  1. Food quality
  2. Housing requirements
  3. Clubs
  4. Abroad study programs
  5. Greek life

You should have a clearer notion of the colleges you want to go to by the time your college search is over, but be sure to consider how many schools you should apply to.

Related Reading: How to Make and Address Book Template

How to Find the Data for the College Application Spreadsheet Checklist

Choosing what information to add to the college spreadsheet template is simple. However, collecting the dataset can be a different story. Since the data you acquire will impact one of the most crucial choices for your future and your family’s financial stability, you need it to be up-to-date and accurate.

There are three main ways in which you can fill out the spreadsheet.


The simplest method for filling up the columns on your spreadsheet is to type each element into Google, followed by the name of the college you want the information for. For instance, you could write “MIT Admission Rate” into Google’s search box and copy the first result if you wanted the school’s acceptance rate.

This could take up much of your time as you must keep going back and forth and copy-pasting the information into the spreadsheet. Some of the information can take some time to get as it can be buried deep in the website for the specific college.


The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, is a website managed by the National Center for Education Statistics, much like the Common Data Set. The website offers a variety of choices to assist you with your college choice.

With this service, you can enter the name of the school you’re interested in and get a list of dropdown menus, each containing information specific to the college. You will get more information here than you possibly need, which can sometimes obstruct valuable information.

You will have to repeat the search based on the number of colleges you wish to add to the spreadsheet.

Common Data Set (CDS)

You can also get the information using the Common Data Set (CDS), a database containing information compiled by publishers like Peterson’s, College Board, and U.S. News. To use the CDS, go to Google and enter the college of your choosing, followed by the term “Common Data Set” Click on the link to the page containing the data.

How to Create a College Application Spreadsheet Template

There are multiple factors you should consider when creating a spreadsheet. What you add to the college application tracking spreadsheet depends on you.

In this example, we are going to create a college list template. The user can add various colleges and compare the information to check which college is best suited for them.

The best part about creating this template is that it doesn’t use formulas. However, you do need to format the data in this spreadsheet properly. Related Reading: Google Sheets Debt Snowball Spreadsheet Template

Here are the steps to follow when creating a college spreadsheet template in Google Sheets:

Building the title for a College Application Spreadsheet
  1. The first thing we will add is the label in an empty spreadsheet. Although this is optional, it can make your college application tracking sheet look more visually appealing. You can do this by merging the cells to give more space for the college spreadsheet title. Then, write the title in the cell and apply text formatting. You can change the font color and the fill color for the cells. Feel free to change the font as well.
Adding data to the college application spreadsheet
  1. Now we have to add all the elements into the college spreadsheet template for Google Sheets. These are the things we talked about in the heading above. For this template, we divided the elements into specific sections. You can also format the text by adding borders and changing the fill anYou can add borders be added by clicking on the grid icon in the main bar.
How to insert checkboxes in Google Sheets
  1. Some of the options in the spreadsheet only need a yes or no response. Writing this in the spreadsheet can be time-wasting, so we can add a checkbox here instead. To do this, click and drag to select all the cells where you wish to add the checkbox. Now, click on the Insert button in the main top bar. In the dropdown menu, click on the Checkbox button.

Feel free to add or remove the information depending on your preferences.

Download the Premade College Application Spreadsheet for Google Sheets

This template serves as a general template that you can use if you don’t wish to go through the process of creating a spreadsheet from scratch.

Wrapping Up

If you don’t want to create your own college application spreadsheet from scratch, feel free to use the template we provided and edit it to your needs. However you go about it, we wish you the best of luck in your college application process and you find the perfect school to attend.


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