The college application list. A daunting task that all seniors must face. Fortunately for you, this guide will help you discover which colleges you should apply to and which you should leave alone. After all, there is only so much time in your senior year and you should spend that time on the colleges that best fit you.
Before you even begin searching for colleges, you HAVE to discover what it is that you want in a college. Think about the academics. What three subject areas are you most passionate about? Think about the college atmosphere. Do you want a small college or a large college? Do you want a place that is more community-oriented and people live in dorms all four years? Or do you want a more independent and isolated place where students live on their own as early as sophomore year? Think about the location. Is a city of vital importance to you? Do you want a remote, quaint college town? Does it matter? Think about the geography. Do you mind going to college out of state? Do you want to stay in state? Do you have a particular state that you want to attend college in? These are the most important questions that you must ask yourself.
Once you have an answer for all of these questions, you can begin to plan. Look at the following websites: College Board, Princeton Review, Private Colleges, and of course your library. Find the colleges that seem to fit you. Don’t worry about the acceptance rate right now. Pick colleges with high, medium and low acceptance rates. Pick many, you can always narrow down later. When I began this process, I had about 35 colleges that I was considering.
Once you have your 20-40 colleges chosen, begin separating them into acceptance rate columns. 40% acceptance rate and below, 40%-75% acceptance rate and 75% acceptance rate and above. Now, when you actually apply, you want to apply to one to three safety schools (75% acceptance rate and higher) and two to five good matches (40%-75% acceptance rate). The reaches (40% and lower) is up to you. It depends on the amount of money you have and how many applications as well as extra essays you are willing to write.
Now comes the harder part. If you have 20-40 colleges split up into these three categories, you are going to see that you need to cut some out of different categories. Begin by doing research on each school. If possible, visit and see if it has the right feel for you. If it doesn’t, immediately take it off of the list. Otherwise, get picky. Find the two or three differences that separate two colleges and get rid of the one that has the things you don’t like. Eventually, you’ll narrow it down and come up with your college application list. It may take you a long time so try to prepare this list as early as possible. I suggest that you have your finished college application list by October 1st or November 1st at the latest. Most of your college applications will be due by December 1st/15th. Good luck with your applications and I hope you make it into the school of your dreams!