Being a junior going into twelfth grade, summer is less about fun and more about having to think about the colleges that I want to apply to next year. There are tens of thousands of universities in the world and even in the U.S, there are still over 4,000 schools to choose from. So how exactly do you narrow down that 4,000 to 7-15 schools? That’s what I’m here to help you with!
For me, the process of narrowing down my college list was overwhelming, to say the least. I had no idea how to start and felt as if the decisions I made during this process could either make or break my entire future. Talking to my counsellor and some of my friends that had already applied to college was very helpful for me. After having gone through the long process and finally limiting my options to 20 schools, I believe I learned many great tips regarding how to compile a college list best suitable for you. So, here is how to get started on narrowing down your college list:
1. Get to know yourself - What are your preferences and interests?
College can be a huge investment and to get the most out of your college experience, it is important to make sure that you are going somewhere that meets your needs and wants. Considering the fact that college is where you will most likely be spending four years of your life, think about even the smallest things. For example, here are some questions that you can think about as you start the process.
2. Research, Research, Research
Once you have figured out what you want, it is time to see which schools will be able to meet those needs and wants. The easiest way is to search up: “Best schools for intended major.” However, make sure that you look beyond just the academic rankings. Instead, look for lists of schools that are most diverse, have the best sports programs, have the happiest students, have the most school spirit, or whatever else is important to you.
Going to college fairs, watching YouTube videos, and talking to your high school alumnus are a few other ways to find colleges to look into. Once you have a rough list of schools that you are interested in, whether that be 30 or 60 schools, it is time to do in-depth research into each of the schools. This definitely took me a long time, but you do not have to do it all in one day, and being thorough here will definitely be helpful later on. Here are a few ways to do your research:
As I did research, I started eliminating schools that didn’t fit what I wanted and was able to narrow down my list.
3. Split the colleges you are interested in to reach, safety, and target schools.
While I am not a professional on college admissions it is recommended that you have a list of around 8-15 schools with around 2-3 safety schools, 3-6 target schools, and 3-6 reach schools. Safety schools are schools that you have a good chance of getting into, target schools are those that you have a 50-50% chance of getting into, and reach schools are those that you do not have a good chance of getting into. So, how exactly do you know which colleges fit into which category? Here is what my own counsellor recommended:
I know that coming up with a college list can seem daunting, and I definitely felt worried and unprepared myself as I started the process. However, the more I did research, the more confident I became in knowing what I wanted and whether or not a school is a good fit for me. Your college list will evolve over time and you do not need to do it all in one day. So, don’t worry too much and I know that you got this!!
Have a great day,