Life Skills

Ambassador College Knowledge Badge


Narrow down your college search and start making a financial plan. Smart!


Activity Details

Time needed:

1–2 hours

Materials needed:

Computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access


Pencil or pen


Explore your options. The first step in applying to college is figuring out where you might like to go. If you have a school—or group of schools—that you’re interested in, you’re already on your way. If not, that’s just fine!  You can start by accessing your free account on CollegeLab, a mobile-friendly web app where you can research more than 2,000 colleges and universities, get personalized acceptance predictions at the top 500 colleges, create a balanced college list to share with your family or guidance counselor, and organize and collect your notes. Due to our special partnership, registered Girl Scouts working on the College Knowledge badge are eligible for FREE access!  

Talk to your parents or guardians about anything non-negotiable that will guide your search: maybe your future school needs to be close enough that you can live at home, or affiliated with your religion. Choose at least three schools that interest you and meet your family’s needs, and compare them.


Find your place. The location of a school plays a big part in the experience you’d have there. Do you plan to live at home while you attend your school, or go home on weekends? Do you want to be in a major city, or do crowds stress you out? Do you love warm weather? Look into the places that are home to your chosen schools and compare them. Think about the cost of living, entertainment options, and access to public transportation. Talk about your findings with family and friends or make a plan to see the schools in person to help narrow down your choices, if possible.


Investigate your interests. Yes, you’re going to college to further your education—but you want to have fun, too! Activities and groups will help you get plugged into college life and make new friends. Are you an athlete? Passionate about politics? Do you want to join a sorority? Sing in an a cappella group? Research the activities and groups offered by your chosen schools and compare them. Talk about your findings with family and friends or make a plan to see the schools in person to help narrow down your choices, if possible.


Compare your program. Many people start college without any idea of what subject they’d like to specialize in. (And many change their minds along the way!) That’s totally fine—college is all about self-discovery. But if you’re passionate about a particular subject or career path, you’ll want to make sure your college can guide you to your goals. Research your potential focus of study at your chosen schools, and compare the options. Is the school known for having a solid program in your field? What kinds of classes are offered? Are there student clubs or groups (Computer Science Club, Pre-Law Society)? Talk about your findings with family and friends or make a plan to see the schools in person to help narrow down your choices, if possible.


Make a financial plan. Higher education is exciting and beneficial in many ways, but it can also be very expensive. The full “sticker price” of a four-year college or university, whether public or private, is out of reach for many, many families in the United States. The good news is that some schools cost less than others—and there are ways to save money and help pay for tuition and other expenses. Look into the cost of higher education and find out how you might receive financial assistance.


Research in-state and out-of-state tuition costs. If you’ve just started thinking about the cost of your college education, you may not have compared the expenses between in-state and out-of-state schools. The base tuition cost for state schools is often much higher for out-of-state students. Choose one state school in the state where you are a resident, and one state school in a different state. Compare the base tuition costs of each, and think about how you might be able to save money while attending both out-of-state and in-state schools. Talk about your findings with your family or guidance counselor.


Find out about scholarships. The cost of a college education can look overwhelming at first—but there are many options available for financial assistance, including scholarships. Are you highly ranked in your class? Are you an athlete? Are you the daughter of a veteran? Can you make a prom dress out of duct tape? (Seriously—look it up!) There are special scholarship opportunities available just for Girl Scouts, too. Visit our Scholarships page to see the latest offerings, and be sure to check with your local council as well. There are many other websites where you can search for different types of scholarships, too. Once you’ve researched your options, apply for at least one scholarship. Have a family member, teacher, or guidance counselor look over your application before you submit it.


Compare the costs of public, private, and junior college. People often assume that public schools are cheaper than private schools, but sometimes—depending on the location and financial aid received—they’re similarly priced. Junior college (also called community college) can also be a great way to further your education at a significantly reduced cost. Choose the subject or career path you’re most interested in and compare the cost of pursuing it at a public institution, private institution, and a junior college. Share your findings with your family, a teacher, or a guidance counselor to get their feedback.

Troop Leaders:  The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your  Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.

Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.

Adapted from Steps 1 and 3 of the Ambassador College Knowledge badge. Download the free official Badge Booklet to complete all requirements and earn the badge.