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How To Narrow Down College List

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Throw Names Out The Window

4 Tips to Narrow Down Your College List

It can be easy to get caught up in the hype of one school or another. Big names can be a big draw but just because you grew up watching a schools football team play on t.v. that doesnt mean the school is right for you. Try to eliminate any biasis you may have towards specific schools and focus on solid information. You might even want to try covering up the names of colleges as you review information you have gathered. You may realize that the name of a school was all you were attracted to.

There are thousands of colleges to choose from deciding where you want to apply isnt easy. But if you follow these tips, you should be on your way to creating the perfect list of schools. Remember, your decision isnt final. While it is nice to get it right the first time, you always have the option of switching schools and changing your path.

Has Columbia College Hollywood made your list? Download out Application checklist below to see what you need to do to apply with us!

This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

Once Youve Found Your Top Choice Its Time For The Verbal Commitment

Your verbal commitment is not the end of your search. Its your stated plan, not your legal contract, and theres a lot that can happen to change your plan. Coaches leave for other schools and new coaches dont always honor previous coaches verbals. So keep your talks open with other coaches, even after you give a college your verbal.

Use Financial Aid Offer Comparison

Once you narrow down your list, you can start comparing financial aid offers. However, this can be complex and confusing. Misunderstanding this offer could cause you to think youre getting more money than you actually are at a particular college and cause you to make the wrong decision when it comes to affordability.

College Raptors Financial Aid Offer Comparison tool helps you cut through the terminology and decipher exactly what it means, how one offer compares to any others you received, and determine whether or not its a good deal for your education and finances.

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Narrow Down Your College List

by Caitlin Vogt | Apr 30, 2021

When you first started researching colleges of interest, your list may have grown substantially in length. For many reasons, you will want to narrow down your list to a manageable number of schools to apply to. Most students settle around 6-10 colleges. We know it can be daunting going from a long list to only a handful of colleges. You may feel like youre turning your back on potential options for your future. We have a few ways to help you narrow down your list and create a balance that leaves you confident in your choices.

How To Narrow Down And Choose Your College List

4 Ways to Narrow Down Your College List

Hey Pre-Collegiettes! The college application process can be very daunting for some. The biggest challenge one faces, other than getting into their desired schools, is deciding where to apply. In this video I talk about how to narrow down the list of schools you plan on applying to come application season!

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My List Of Colleges Is Still Huge How Do I Narrow It Down

First off, lets break down what your college list should have on it. There are three major types of college fit on a students listmatch, reach, and safety. A match school is a college you are likely to get into. A reach is a college that may be a bit of a stretch. And a safety is a school in which youre pretty much guaranteed to get into no matter what. A good college list is a healthy mix of reaches, matches, and safeties. If, for example, you had a list of 6 schools, 3 of those could be matches, 2 safeties, and 1 reach.

Make Priority Lists

Even when you narrow down your college choices, its still a good idea to keep that mix of the three types on your list. Now you need to take a close look at what you want out of a school. It will be different for every student but try to write down a collection of qualities or features you really desire out of a school and then prioritize them. Would you prefer a large school or a smaller one? Is a renowned Business program a must? Do you want to move far away from home or stick close? All of these can factor into the schools on your list. Write down your must-haves and deal-breakers.

Use that priority list you created to start eliminating choices. Youll likely have to make a few compromises. For example, you might really, really like a colleges amenities, but dont like that its a large campus. Or perhaps you adore the campus, but dont like that its several states away from home.

Use The Marie Kondo Method To Narrow Down A College List

Managing expectations while developing a college list is not easy. High school students today deal with a lot of noise from peers, parents, teachers, counselors, and if they are really unlucky, random people who have no business talking to them about college .

It is a hot topic and social media chatter does not help. Where they will go, what they will major in there seems to be nothing sacred about the journey and no one feels compelled to keep their mouth shut.

And then theres the critical issue that comes up with many of the students I work with: getting into the most selective American colleges is more fiercely competitive than ever before, with many schools reporting a record number of applicants , and corresponding record low admit rates .

To many, this news is fear-inducing. How will I possibly get admitted to a top college or university?

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Tips For Building A Great Application List

Every year, many students find they are less-than-thrilled with the results of their college applications. So how do you make sure your college list leads to a happy ending?

  • Don’t take a “wait-and-see” approach. Students who apply to all of the colleges on their initial list often wind up with a lot of stress, wasted time, rushed applicationsand disappointing results.
  • Make sure your idea of “fit” keeps evolving. Many students change their college priorities as they find out more about colleges and college life. Adjust your list as you continue to learn what’s important to you.
  • Make sure you’ll get in somewhere great. A few of your colleges should be very likely to admit you. This will ensure that you get into a college that you will be happy to attend.
  • Accept that all highly selective schools are reaches. Even if you have the best grades in the state, getting accepted to schools such as Harvard and Yale is never a given. If you are a top student, apply if those colleges appeal to you. But also apply to some backup schools with admission rates above 20 percent.
  • Find “financial safeties.” Apply to colleges you believe will be affordable, either because their cost of attendance is manageable or because you expect your net price to be reasonable. Look for colleges where your grades and scores make you a highly desirable, above-average candidateand thus more likely to get cost-reducing financial aid.

Now Is The Time To Start Thinking About Where You Will Apply

Tips for building a college list: how to research colleges

It may be the middle of summer, but application season is fast approaching! In just a couple of weeks the Common App will be released, but with the prior announcement of the essay topics, and some schools announcing their supplement questions early, many rising high school seniors have already started on their applications.

While it is a good idea to get a head start on your admissions essays in order to get a bulk of the work out of the way before school starts, you also need to be finalizing, or at least narrowing down, your balanced college list in anticipation of the Aug. 1 application release date.

Now is a great time to begin this process, while you have free time to focus on whats most important to you and truly reflect on how you feel about the schools on your list.

Heres what you can be doing now to narrow down your college list before August.

Review your research.

When you began creating your balanced college list, there was most likely a lot of time that went into researching the schools the academics, campus culture, student organizations, location, etc. These are all important factors in deciding where you ultimately want to apply.

This summer, revisit that research to paint a better picture in your mind about what life would be like at that college or university. Its a great way to refresh your memory and begin picking out what you love about the school, or what you may dislike.

Begin drafting your Why this college essay.

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The Secret To Narrowing Down Your College List

Narrowing down your college list is a really difficult task, especially when you dont really know where to start. But thats okay- there is no right answer or right approach to finding out which schools you should apply to. You may have already prioritized location, or school size. Whatever it is, start from there, and work your way through it. With some bumps along the way, youll find the perfect school for you. Well, at least thats how these Stanford students did it:


How Do I Pick A Safety School

Even if your childâs dream school is a target school , your strategy should still include a couple of safety schools. Not only are these useful from an admissions strategy but also from a financial aid one.

Safety schools should still meet the requirements your child has for a college, but they should also be easy for them to be admitted, and also affordable. Though nothing is guaranteed in the college admissions process, think of a safety school as one where that your child will be accepted to college, but also consider that they will be able to afford it. If you or your spouse suddenly lose your job or face financial hardship, having a financial safety school with a generous financial aid package will be one less thing for your family to worry about.

The college search process is nothing short of bewildering at times, but a solid strategy featuring a thoughtful college list can make it much more straightforward. By focusing on your childâs stats as well as your familyâs financial position, a good college list can provide a basis for a perfect admissions and financial aid strategy.




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Judge A Book By Its Cover For Once

When narrowing down their list of schools, most people tend to focus on academics but forget to look into dorm life. It may feel superficial to judge a school based on how its residence halls look, but these rooms are about to become your home, so it has to be a place you can realistically see yourself living. To get a sense of the dorms, watch videos posted by the school. They often show the different types of rooms in the building and the other features, whether it be laundry, common rooms, bike racks, or study lounges. These videos can also help narrow down your list by determining what the deal breakers are, whether it be possible communal bathrooms, carpeted floors, or a lack of air-conditioning.

You May Narrow Down As You Continue To Look Into Colleges

Narrow Down Your College List

At different points in your college search, youll have a different number of schools on your list. You may start with 30 and via research, narrow it to 20. You might attend a college fair and narrow it further to 15. A couple of college visits thrown in there might take it down to 10. Looking up the GPA averages, acceptance odds, and cost of attendance might knock that down to 6. Anywhere from 4-8 is a pretty good number when it comes to sending in applications.

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How To Narrow Down Your List Of Colleges


Cost is one of the first thing soon-to-be college students consider where they will be the next fall.

Before applying to schools, sit down and figure out a budget for college tuition and living expenditures.

College is ridiculously expensive, and it will be much easier if you determine your number early on in the process rather than getting your hopes up for a specific school, then realizing you cannot afford it.

Discuss these costs with your family, if they are involved in the college process, and go from there.

Take into account any possible scholarships you may receive at the universities you applied to.

If the school you like is far from home, be sure to factor in the travel and transportation costs to and from where you will live.

On Niche, you can explore Best Value Colleges, which are identified based on their calculated value using public data sets and millions of reviews, in addition to graduates salaries after graduation and the graduation rate.

Field of Study

If you dont know what exactly you want to study, look for a college that does a variety of things well.

That way, once you start taking classes, you dont have to worry about your school not offering a major youre interested in.

As a high school senior, I knew that I was interested in writing but that was about all I knew.

The diversity of areas of study attracted me initially, but the idea of being able to do so many things at once was what really grabbed my attention.

Consider The Cost Of Attending Schools High On Your List

This is a good time to talk with coaches about college costs. Tell them you and your family want to make wise choices and get as much help as possible. Coaches can always help their athletes find resources for school costs, though that help can take a few different forms. Programs without big budgets can offer grants and scholarships for good grades or give aid for books and housing. So even if a program doesnt have many scholarships for your sport, you dont have to scratch it from your list. Ask the coach to find other ways to make the cost right for you and your family.

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Icon/arrow Solid Connect With Schools You’re Interested In

Emailing a school, following them on social media, or sitting in on an admissions Welcome Session can provide insight into what the university offers, which can help narrow down your list even further. You can learn more about the application process to determine whether the school is a reach or a safety. You can also learn more about student life and what the school has for clubs, sports, and Greek life. Additionally, you can get more information about various opportunities such as studying abroad, internships, and fellowships. Connecting with a school is also a great way to learn about financial aid and the different types of scholarships a school can provide. You sometimes also get to hear from current students who can share a fresh perspective on college life. And remember, dont be afraid to ask questions no question is a dumb question when trying to find a new home.

Finding Your Top Fit And Narrowing Your List To One

How To Narrow Down Your Target List

Once youre down to three or four, its a matter of getting to one. This is where talk of commitment comes in, and its sometimes confusing. Some coaches may casually mention the word without being clear about a real offer to you. Then other athletes, even as young as freshmen, might talk about their commitment even when they have no real offers. To find out what colleges are possible commitments for you, be forward with coachesask what promises and how much financial help they can offer.

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Narrow Down Your List

If youre at this point in the process, youve probably already looked into things such as location, size and majors offered. Here are some other things to research:

  • Financial aid packages
  • Variety of academic programs offered
  • Special programs, such as study abroad
  • Clubs and activities on campus
  • Housing options

A great way to narrow your list is to start making college visits, if possible. You can also make virtual campus visits.

Have You Discussed Financials With Your Parents

For financial purposes, most students should consider applying to at least one in-state public college.

I live in a state that has two separate public university systems. One is the “university system” with an annual cost of attendance of $25,000, and the other is the “state system” with an annual cost of attendance closer to $17,500.

The starting price may be the difference in a student attending a four year college versus the community college system. Make sure you discuss financials with your parents before applying to any college. Ask your parents if you are solely responsible for paying for college or if they have saved for this endeavor. Do your homework before spending valuable time applying to colleges that are out of your price range!

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Consider Your Financial Fit

When narrowing down your college list, this part can be a little trickier. The cost of college is not always the sticker price you see initially. For example, private schools may appear more expensive than public colleges. However, most private schools have more money to give in scholarships and financial aid to their students. For this reason, dont discount any school type based on what you believe to be true for affordability. Be sure to have an open conversation with your family about affordability. Also, dont hesitate to schedule an appointment for you, your parents/guardian, and high school counselor.

You can also use myOptions to see the cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses. You can also see the average debt a student has upon graduation, the average financial aid awarded to undergraduates, and the percentage of students that receive financial aid. To explore your personal situations, each college has their own college cost calculator. By doing your research, you will be able to make an informed decision!

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