1) I tried a lot of different resources to guide my research and help me make decisions on which colleges I liked and which ones I didn't, here are a few of my favorite websites:
-- Niche was so, so helpful. It was probably the website that I used the most and was definitely a favorite. Not only can it tell you about a schools academic profile, but you can learn so much about student and campus life through reviews from alumni and current students. Would 100% recommend to help your get an overview and good idea of what your school of interest is really like.
-- College Confidential was also a really big help. It is basically a ton of chat threads that cover major college topics about how to prepare for admissions and choose which college is best for you. It is real people giving their honest opinion, so it is a great site to get on the inside of what a college or process is really like.
-- Cappex was an amazing free service that not only allowed you to look at colleges, but helps find colleges for you too. You can create an academic profile and then favorite colleges allowing the service to find the best fit and add them to your personal list so you can keep track of the schools you love. You can also create preferences to help Cappex filter colleges to what they think work well for you.