Creating Your College List
Deciding which schools to apply to is a difficult task. Your final list should be a collection of colleges and/or universities that address all of the characteristics you are looking for in a school including academics, size, location, etc. It is a good idea to start with a broad list and narrow it down to 6-8 schools as you are able to visit campuses and learn more about their programs.
Even the best students with outstanding credentials aren’t always offered admission to all of the schools they apply to. Colleges have become increasingly more selective with some schools accepting only 10-15% of their applicant pool each year. This is why it is so important to choose your colleges wisely. You should be happy attending any school on your final list, even if it isn’t your first choice.
The schools on your final list should fall into three categories: reach; possible; and likely, as described below. The College Planning Center can help you determine which category a school fits into for you based on experience with other high school students and knowledge about particular schools.
Most students have little difficulty identifying reach schools that they believe to be perfect matches for their needs. At a reach school, your credentials may not be as strong as those of students previously admitted or the school has a low acceptance rate making it hard for any student to be accepted.
Your credentials for admission are truly competitive and you are qualified for admission. This is a school where you have at least a 50/50 chance of admission.
These are schools where your credentials are very competitive and it is highly likely that you will be admitted. It is extremely important for students to find several “likely” schools where they truly believe they can be happy and productive.
Whatever criteria you decide to use in your school selection process, you should always apply to one school where you know you will be accepted and you know you can afford to attend.
Download our college application tracker to help keep you organized:
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