How to Craft a College List

When it comes to creating a college list, we take the long view. College admissions success, to us, is not just about getting accepted. Rather, we want each student to get accepted to schools that are a spectacular fit for them and where, once accepted, they will thrive and graduate. That all starts with the list.

Crafting a good college list begins with research, analysis, and self-reflection. Students need to have clarity about their goals for attending college and know what they are interested in studying. While they don’t need to have decided upon a major, they should be able to articulate some subject areas they’d like to explore. If a school does not offer a program in the area or areas in which a student is interested, it gets cut from the list regardless of any other positive features. If a college makes it beyond that first cut, then a number of other characteristics are assessed to determine if it will meet the social, emotional, and financial needs of that student.

When a list is complete, a student should be able to tell anyone reading it exactly why they want to go to each school on it. Answers like “pretty campus,” “great reputation,” or “my girlfriend is applying there,” are inadequate. Instead, each school should be viewed through a highly personal lens, focused on the student’s individual needs and goals. And in the end, the list should contain only schools the student would be happy to attend.

The leading characteristic of a complete list is balance. Let’s assume that every school on the list has already been vetted for the correct major(s), academic fit, size, location, career counseling, special services, relationship levels with professors, diversity and any other aspects that the student cares about. So far so good. But let’s face it, some schools are more selective than others. Any student who focuses only on highly selective schools, no matter the student’s GPA, scores, activities, and accomplishments, is playing with fire.

Schools that accept under 25% of applicants are simply a crapshoot for everyone. Those who apply already have the numbers, so the admissions folks turn their attention to building a class that meets a unique set of requirements. And there’s no way to know what these are. These are “Reach” schools. Other schools that are defined as “Reach” simply accept students with higher average GPA’s and test scores than an applicant has achieved. Should you have Reach schools on your list? Of course, as long as you feel you could thrive in the competitive environment that comes with that label.

If your GPA and scores fall within the average range for the school in question, it’s called a “Target” school. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you are a shoo-in. Again, there’s no law that says college admissions decision criteria have to be fair or to be available to the public. Still, for these schools, it’s reasonable to feel more confident than a student would about the Reach schools on his list.

Finally, a list should contain “Likely” schools. These are defined as schools at which a student’s GPA and test scores well exceed the average of accepted students. These are not “safety” schools. For a school to be on the list it has to be a school the student would be happy to attend, not a consolation prize.

A balanced list will include roughly equal numbers of schools in each category. A total list should be in the 10-15 school range. A list with many more schools than that usually indicates less in-depth thinking about any one school on the list.

Starting with a good list is key to winding up with “ a sea of yesses” but, more importantly, a wonderful college experience.

Featured Posts

Recent Posts


Search By Tags

No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram
  • Wix Facebook page
  • Wix Twitter page



Copyright © 2019 College Fit 360 - All Rights Reserved.

Tags:  College Consulting Los Angeles  College Consultants Los Angeles  College Consultant Los Angeles  College Counseling Los Angeles  College Counselors Los Angeles  College Counselor Los Angeles  College Advisors Los Angeles  College Advisor Los Angeles  Academic Advisors Los Angeles  Academic Advisor Los Angeles  Educational Consultants Los Angeles  Educational Consulting Los Angeles  Educational Consultant Los Angeles  College Academic Counseling Los Angeles  College Academic Counselors Los Angeles  College Academic Counselor Los Angeles  College Admissions Counseling Los angeles  College Admissions Counselors Los Angeles  College Admissions Counselor Los Angeles  College Admissions Consulting Los Angeles  College Admissions Consultants Los Angeles  College Admissions Consultant Los Angeles College Prep Los Angeles  College Prep Consulting Los Angeles  College Prep Consultants Los Angeles  College Prep Consultant Los Angeles  Los Angeles College Consulting  Los Angeles College Consultants  Los Angeles College Consultant  Los Angeles College Admissions Consulting  Los Angeles College Admissions Consultants  Los Angeles College Admissions Counseling  Los Angeles College Admissions Counselors  Los Angeles College Admissions Counselor  Los Angeles College Counseling  Los Angeles College Counselors  Los Angeles College Counselor  College Consulting San Fernando Valley  College Consultants San Fernando Valley  College Consultant San Fernando Valley  College Consulting Westside  College Consultants Westside  College Consultant Westside  College Consultants Beverly Hills  College Consultant sSanta Monica  College Consultants Pasadena  College Consultants Glendale  College Consultants West Los Angeles  College Consultants Culver City  College Consultants Venice  College Consultants Mar Vista  College Consultants Brentwood  College Consultants Pacific Palisades  College Consultants Encino  College Consultants Sherman Oaks  College Consultants Studio City  College Consultant Burbank  College Consultants Woodland Hills  College Consultants Granada Hills  College Consultants Calabasas  College Consultants Van Nuys  College Consultants North Hollywood  College Consultants West Hollywood  College Consultants Hollywood  College Consultants San Gabriel Valley  College Consultants Conejo Valley  International College Consultants  International Students  Nationwide College Consultants  Virtual College Consultants  College Coaching  College Success Coaching  College to Career Strategies  College to Career  College to Workplace  Getting Your First Real Job  21st Century Workplace  Couch to Career  Get a Job After College  Workplace Skills  Soft Skills  Career Consultants Los Angeles  Career Strategist Los Angeles  Career Counselor  Career Strategies  Helping College Grads Get Jobs  College Fit 360  What Now 360  Roberta Lachman  Joan Weiss  College Essays  Help With College Essays  Writing College Admissions Essays  How Do I Apply To College  How Do I Get Into College  Getting Into College  College Applications