College search process for LGBTQ high school students

By Julia Schwenderman, Syracuse University 2022, Campus Pride 2021 Summer Intern

Applying to colleges as an LGBTQ student

If you’re a high school student currently applying to colleges and universities, there are many factors for you to consider when picking the school that’s right for you. For LGBTQ students, finding a LGBTQ-friendly campus is often a part of their college decision process. According to the HRC 2018 Youth Report, “only 27% of LGBTQ youth can ‘definitely’ be themselves in school as an LGBTQ person.”

For the graduating Class of 2022, there are colleges and universities that look to recruit LGBTQ students and make them feel welcome on campus. Schools like Duke University participate in LGBTQ-friendly college fairs and offer LGBTQ scholarships. There are also schools like Guilford College that offer themed living communities and other social opportunities targeted at LGBTQ students..

When applying to schools, ime to think about what is most important to you when choosing a LGBTQ-friendly campus. Which of these qualities is most important to you at your future college or university? The Campus Pride Ultimate Queer College Guide lists ten areas to consider during the college search process:

  1. Active LGBTQ student organization
  2. Out LGBTQ students on campus
  3. Out LGBTQ faculty and staff
  4. LGBTQ-Inclusive university policies
  5. Visible signs of pride on campus
  6. LGBTQ allies from the top down
  7. LGBTQ-inclusive housing and gender-inclusive bathrooms
  8. Established LGBTQ center and support services
  9. LGBTQ/queer studies academic program

For students of color and trans students, there may be other considerations when choosing a LGBTQ-friendly college or university. For more information for LGBTQ students of color, visit the Point Foundation BIPOC Scholarship and Campus Pride HBCU Clearinghouse. Find information for trans and gender nonconforming students from Trans Student Educational Resources, Gender Spectrum and Campus Pride’s Trans Policy Clearinghouse.

Campus Pride Index

The Campus Pride Index is an “overall indicator of institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policy, program and practice” for college campuses across the country. Prospective college students can view Campus Pride’s rankings of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities by using the Campus Pride Index at

Campus Pride also does an annual roundup of the “best” and “worst” colleges and universities for LGBTQ students. Click here for our list of Best of the Best LGBTQ-friendly schools. Also, check out our Worst of the Worst List of institutions that use Title IX exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

Campus pride has expanded its research to include LGBTQ inclusion and safety in college sports. If you are interested in playing NCAA sports in college, check out the Campus Pride Sports Index for athletic programs rankings. Find resources for trans athletes at

LGBTQ-friendly college fairs

Campus Pride hosts a series of college fairs for students and families looking to attend LGBTQ-friendly colleges. The organization is the only in the nation that hosts an LGBTQ-friendly college fair program in six cities across the country.

 LGBTQ student scholarships, fellowships and grants

When looking at prospective schools, cost of admissions is a big concern for many students and families. In addition to financial aid and merit-based scholarships, many universities and other organizations offer scholarships, fellowships and grants for LGBTQ students.

National LGBTQ organizations have compiled databases for LGBTQ students to find scholarships available to them all in one place. To find scholarships you qualify for, visit the Campus Pride National LGBTQ Scholarship Network and HRC Scholarship Database. There are also minority scholarships for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and asian and pacific islander students. The Point Foundation also offers scholarships, mentorships and other LGBTQ student merit programs.

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