Search engine optimization isn't just a process, it has a goal. If the goal is to recruit students, what keywords should we be targeting? What search terms actually lead to admissions inquiries and filling out applications? (This sounds like a job for Google Analytics.)
Presumably the search phrase "where should I go for college?" might not exactly fit the bill. And not "really cool schools near my hometown". Something like "colleges in [your state or city]" makes sense intuitively, but does it really bring you prospective students? Jeff Howard's discussion of local search
seems more applicable in large cities with more colleges than high school students can keep track of. Nobody searches for "colleges in Bryan/College Station Texas" because everybody in town knows both of them.
Or should we be targeting dozens of long tail keywords, such as "texas engineering schools" or "ohio aviation schools"?