At the time of my college search, I felt completely overwhelmed by the process. It seemed endlessly complicated and I was so stressed because of my full schedule that I wasn't able to enjoy the process as much as I could have. So if you're in the middle of the college process now...take a deep breath and we'll go through it together.
The first question that you have to ask yourself is where in terms of location you want to be. Some people really want to be far away from what they've known so far, others want a warmer climate or independence. Whatever you want, make sure that you define it for yourself. Ask yourself: if I had no monetary limits where in the country or world would I choose to be? For me this was an easy question. My family is and will always be at the center of my life so I wanted to be as close to them as possible. So at this point in my search, I had about a three state radius in which I was willing to travel and luckily for me there were a few really great options in this area.
Next you have to ask yourself what kind of school environment you want to be in. Even if you're not sure what you want to pursue, and I certainly wasn't (even up until my sophomore year of college), identify what kind of specifics in terms of the environment that you would be most comfortable in. Do you want a public or a private school, a school where you know everyone or have the chance to meet someone new each day, or a school with a few majors or one that leaves a lot of things open for you to explore? Again here, the key is to really think about what would make you most happy. If you've identified business as an area of interest already, that's great because you've narrowed your options even further.
Next comes the visiting, which is one of the most crucial parts of the experience. You have to go see the campuses to find out what feels right. This may seem a bit cheesy but you'll know what I'm talking about when you feel it. What happens is that you'll start picturing yourself there and thinking about all the possibilities that are open to you. You'll be receptive to the staff and students and think that you can't wait to get to become friends with them or meet that professor. What it comes down to is this: pick the school you feel comfortable at. At this point for me, I had the opportunity to visit all three of my choices and only one really felt right for me (I bet you can guess where I chose).
From there the application process can be daunting but remember this is about the next four years of your life and that college is a considerable investment in terms of both time and money so be careful. Spend all the time you can on an application to a school you truly care about. Have proofreaders for your essays and of course study for your ACTs or SATs because those scores do have a strong impact on the process.
Above all though, remember to relax and take a breath because it is a hard process and you will find yourself having difficulties. But when you get into your perfect college with scholarships galore...it will be all worth it and then you can start on your new journey.
Best of luck!