Tuesday, June 11, 2024

How To Make Your College List

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How To Find Your Match Schools

How to Build Your College List

As mentioned above, you could consider a college to be a match school if you have between a 20% and 80% chance of getting in. Research your colleges’ requirements and head on over to PrepScholar’s admission calculator to estimate your chances.

For instance, here’s a student interested in Purdue University. She has a 3.5 GPA and a 1260 SAT score. Both of these are fairly close to the average GPA and SAT score for students at Purdue. So what are her chances of getting in?

With this GPA and SAT score, the student has about a 39% chance of getting in. Remember that other factors come into play, so her extracurriculars, essay, and recommendation letters might boost her admission chances.

Choose about three match schools across this range of 20% to 80% chance of admission. Once you’ve done that, you can finish your college list with a few reach schools.

The final spots on your college list are reserved for reaches. This kid’s actually reaching for a frisbee, not a college application. He’s 10.

Put Your List Of Colleges To The Test

No matter your starting point, your college list wont be complete until youve hit the send button on your last college application. But before you start worrying about how many safety, target and reach schools to apply to, theres one more step: visiting them either online or in person.

After all, making campus visits is one of the key steps to choosing a college. Just remember to bring your list. And remember, whether the list is capable of helping you navigate the college application process is another story.

Maya Dollarhide contributed to this article.

Find Out More About The Colleges On Your List

Once you have narrowed the list to about a dozen colleges, you can concentrate on learning more about them and putting some of them on your application list. At this point, you should also consider practical factors such as your likelihood of admission and financial aid. Our article Narrowing Down Your College List can help you with this process.

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How To Make Your College List

Before you begin crafting your college application, there is one important question that you need to address: where are you going to apply? When it comes to all the schools available for you, the list goes on and on, so heres our quick guide to narrowing it down to your own college list.

Building a List

Identify Your Deal Makers and Breakers

While every school will have its own unique culture, there are a few factors that you can consider before diving in too deeply that may have a large sway on whether or not you can see yourself attending, and should be the first things you consider when deciding to apply. Weve listed the most common ones for you below.

Understanding Whether its a Fit

Outline the Application Steps

Once you have your college list assembled, find out what their application entails. Visit their admissions page and write down important deadlines for application and financial aid submissions. Now that you know where you want to apply, you can now also note what supplementary questions each school requires and begin to brainstorm.

Strategy For Creating A College List

How to Create Your College List

While many resources will tell you to apply to only six schools, The Admissions Angle approach to college lists is high and wide. We encourage students to reach for the stars on several of their choices while applying to as many schools as your time and means allow for. The reasoning behind this is simple. It is impossible to predict the exact metrics a college is using to admit students year to year, and it is impossible to know how you may or may not fit into their scheme. Every admissions officer is different, and just because you dont get into one reach school does not mean you will not get into any reach school. In the past, weve worked with students who gain admissions to multiple Ivy League colleges, but are rejected from UC Berkeley. Why? The student clearly possessed something that the Ivies were interested in that UC was not. To an extent, college admissions is a numbers game, so the more places you apply, the better your chances of getting into at least one. Plus, you only apply to colleges once in your life. Why leave any stone unturned?

Unfortunately, this strategy means that rejection is inevitable. The more schools you apply to, the more rejections you will receive. It helps to accept this truth early on in the process. Rejections are difficult and can warp our senses of self worth. Try not to let this happen. If you do your due diligence, you will get into a solid school that is a good fit for you.

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Compile The Big College List

After you get to know yourself and what you are looking for in a college, you can start doing your initial research. This list can be quite large depending on your preferences, and that is okay.

Here are a few resources to use when creating your first draft of your college list:

  • College counselors Talk to your school counselor or your independent college counselor. They have a lot of knowledge about colleges and can provide good recommendations based on what you are looking for in a college.
  • College search tools College Raptor has a great college match feature. Just put in your preferences and the tool will give you a list of colleges that offer the things you want in a college.

What Determines Your Chances Of Getting Into College

If you’ve started down the college admission road, then you probably have a good sense of what colleges look for in applicants. Most colleges fall into one of two categories when it comes to admission decisions:

  • Those that use assured admission
  • Those that take a holistic approach

Read on to learn about both.

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Making Your College List: 3 Extra Tips

So far, this guide has mainly focused on the hard data of picking schools. To help you make concrete choices about your safety, match, and reach schools, you can focus on the numbers: average SAT/ACT scores, average GPA, and your chances of admission.

Beyond estimating your chances, you should consider other factors when making your college list. There are a number of factors to think about, but for the purposes of this guide, let’s focus on three main tips.

What’s A Safety School

How to Create a College List

Making your college list requires you to do some research on the colleges you’re interested in. Once you have a sense of their respective requirements, you can sort them into safety, match, and reach schools.

Let’s start with your safeties. You might choose two to three safety schools for your final list. A safety school is one where your academic credentials are much stronger than those of the average accepted student.

You feel relatively confident that you’ll get accepted. You might have an 80% or higher chance of admission, an estimate you can make with our admission calculator.

As you saw above, some schools have assured admission for all applicants or in-state residents. If you have one of these on your list, then you could consider it a safety school.

Safety schools usually aren’t your first choice, but they should still be schools that you’d be happy to attend. So how can you go through the research process discussed above to find your two to three safety schools?

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How To Get Started Building A Balanced College List

  • 2 min read
Learn how to build a balanced college list of safety, target, and reach schools when applying to college.
What is a balanced college list?

An important consideration in building your college list is likelihood of acceptance. While it is never certain that you will or will not be accepted to a school, you can follow some basic standards to help gauge your chance of being admitted. These measures are based on the average GPA and test scores of previously admitted students at the school. Those two measures inform the balanced college list framework of safety, target, and reach schools.

To be considered âbalanced,â your college list should include a healthy mix of safety, target, and reach schools. Hereâs what that framework is about:


your GPA and/or test scores are near the admitted student average


your GPA and/or test scores are below the admitted student average

RaiseMe Insight: Your RaiseMe account is a great place to not only earn money for college, but also explore your college options to start building your list!

How many colleges should you apply to?

Choose At Least Six Colleges To Apply To

A good rule of thumb for your list is to include a couple of schools youll almost definitely be accepted by, a couple of schools you have a good chance of being accepted by, and a couple of schools that might be a reach but youre hoping to be accepted by. This way, youll have options when you make your decision.

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Do You Know How To Improve Your Profile For College Applications

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now it only takes 3 minutes and it’s 100% free.

Beginning your search for a great college is no easy task. It might even seem overwhelming at first. There are over 7,000 institutions of secondary education in the United States, and while some may be common household names, many others will no doubt be new to you. If youre just beginning to look at colleges, you might be wondering where to start.

Making a college list is an integral part of anyones college search. This list should represent your values and priorities while staying true to your profile as an applicant. There are many different factors that should weigh into your decision, and ultimately what works best for you will be different from what works for your friends. Youll need to think carefully about where you see yourself headed in the next few years and how you see yourself getting there.

Other students dont begin their college list until junior or even senior year. While this gives you less time to learn about the options that are out there, it doesnt have to put you at a distinct disadvantage if you use your resources wisely and have a strategic approach to creating your college list.

Opportunities For Experiential Learning

Building Your College Application Plan

Want to make sure your childs education extends beyond the lecture hall? One way to do so is to create a list of colleges with plenty of opportunities for study abroad and volunteering.

Dont forget to also include schools with solid career resourcesthey can help undergrads learn about different career paths, land internships, and jobs, and even help if they decide to continue with graduate school and need employment while doing so.

Choosing a college is a very personal decision and every students college list will look different. The earlier students start familiarizing themselves with schools and thinking about preferences, the easier developing the perfect college list will be.

For more help creating a college list, try Road2Colleges online College Insights Tool.

It will allow you to filter, sort, and compare the results for information about merit scholarships, test-optional, early decision, early action, need-based aid, and more.




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Bonus: Indiana College Application Week Information

Every September, Indiana holds its annual College Application Week to encourage more students to apply to college. This years College Application Week is . Use the table below to find out admissions information for colleges and universities in Indiana, including information about fee waivers for all students during College Application Week . And, to find out about virtual events happening throughout September where you can tune in to learn about college applications and visit with admissions counselors with many colleges and universities.

How Many Schools Should I Apply To

Dream schools :This is the school that you put on the list so that you dont have regrets later in life. However, try to be somewhat reasonable. If your dream school is Stanford but you have a 3.0 GPA and a 1000 SAT, then its definitely not worth writing all of those essays for a chance that is effectively zero. However, if your baseline GPA and scores fall within the acceptable range , take your shot! After all, it would be a dream if you got in.

Reach schools :These are schools in which you should possess a less than 25% chance of getting in. We advise applying to as many reach schools as you have time for, because as we said before, you may have the exact qualities that a particular admissions officer is looking for. Give it a try! The more reach schools you apply to, the better your odds are of gaining admissions to at least one and one is all you need.

Target schools :These schools are colleges where you possess a 25-75% chance of getting in based on your scores and grades. If you are looking at the schools admissions portfolio and thinking that sounds like me, then that school is a target. You dont need to apply to loads of target schools if you have assessed them properly and determined that these are the schools youre most likely to choose if not accepted to any reach schools. .

College Admissions Services

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Creating A College List Part : How To Research Colleges To Develop A Balanced College List

by Let’s Go Team | Oct 27, 2020 | Applying To College

Once you have spent time Discovering You and determined your core values important in your college search, the next step is to begin researching schools and solidifying where you will be applying. Before you begin your college research, it is important to understand how many schools you should apply to and how to construct a balanced college list.

How many colleges should I apply to?

Application platforms nowadays simplify the process, it is important for you to know that just because it is easier for you to apply to a lot of schools, it does not mean that you necessarily should apply to an extraordinary amount.

  • Stay focused and develop a list of eight to twelve total schools that you plan to apply to. These schools should not only meet your core values, but should have your academic major, be financially affordable to you and your family, but, perhaps most important, they are institutions you would be excited to attend if accepted.

What is a Reach, Target or Likely school?

In general, a college with an acceptance rate between 1-25% is classified as a Reach a college with an acceptance rate between 26-50% will be classified as Target and colleges with an acceptance rate above 51% will be classified as Likely school.

What is a holistic application review?

How do I know if my college list is balanced?

Dont be afraid of rejection!

Be Organized!

Be Careful With National Rankings

How to Make and Organize Your College List | Coach Hall Writes

College rankings, such as those published by U.S. News and World Report can serve as an easy starting point to learn about popular colleges. But its dangerous to assume that a highly ranked college is right for you, or that the ranking measures the factors important to you. Create your own college ranking based on the factors you are looking for in a college. For more information about college rankings, see Get Smart About College Rankings.

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Making Your First College List

Spread the Knowledge. Share:

Let’s say you want a small college not too far from home. You want to major in biochemistry and play volleyball. Now what?

If you search for colleges using your priorities, you are bound to find a number of appealing candidates. Naturally, your list will change as you learn more about collegesand yourself.

What’s A Match School

Match schools, also known as target schools, are schools where you have a good, but not guaranteed, chance of getting accepted. In other words, your academic credentials line up with those of the average accepted student.

While your safety schools might not be your first choice, match schools are typically ones you’d be excited to attend. So how can you pick your match schools?

These should be schools where you have somewhere between a 20% and 80% chance of admission. Those on the lower end might be borderline reach schools, while those on the higher end are borderline safeties.

Read on for a step-by-step example of finding a match school.

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Factor : Location And Size

Its important for your child to consider where theyd like to spend four years of their late teens and early 20s.

Quality of life can matter just as much to students as their academic work. Therefore, we ask students the following questions when helping them develop their school list:

  • Do you want to attend school in a big city or rural area?

  • Would you like to live in a cold weather or warm weather setting?

  • How near to your family do you want to be?

With regard to size, your childs college experience can be very different if the student body comprises 8,000 students vs. 30,000 students. While large colleges make efforts to have small class sizes for upper division courses, access to TAs, community building activities, honors colleges, and so on, your child may feel like just a number if a large school isnt suited to them.

On the flip side, large colleges sometimes offer opportunities, such as robust athletic departments or prestigious research labs, that many smaller schools dont. Moreover, your child will have access to a larger pool of students from which to make friends.

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to location and class size, but we encourage your family to have honest conversations about your childs location and size preferences.


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