5 Steps to Making a Great College List

Students, one of the major tasks to accomplish as you head into your senior year of high school is to create a balanced and thoughtful college list. There are many questions surrounding the college list: “How do I get started?” “How many colleges should be on my list?”, etc. The counselors at Campus Bound have broken it down into 5 easy steps and we are available to help at any time.


Step 1: Determine Your “Criteria”

The first step in creating a college list is determining the characteristics of your “ideal” college. This is where some introspection, analysis and self-discovery go a long way. Try this: close your eyes and imagine yourself at your dream college. Don’t think about a specific college, but rather the characteristics of that college: How large is the campus? How many students attend there? What majors and courses are offered? What fun activities and athletics will be offered on campus? What are the students like? How far away from home is it? Those are some of the criteria to use when first creating a college list. If you really don’t know what you want, it might help to talk with family, friends, teachers, current college students, or a college counselor to get some clarity.


Step 2: Find Colleges That Match That Criteria

Once you know the qualities you want in a college, head to the books and internet to seek out schools that match. If your criteria are broad or vague you will find many schools that match and you will need to narrow them down. However, if you have a very specific set of criteria, you may not come up with many matches and may need to broaden your “wish list” a little bit. A good starting point is anywhere from 15-20 schools. This would be your “initial list.” Now comes the (FUN!) work…


Step 3: Research and Visit

When you have a handful of schools that match your criteria it is then time to research those colleges. There are many ways to figure out if a school is really a good fit for you. College books, college fairs and the Internet are ways many students collect information about colleges. Talking with current college students, teachers, and a college counselor are also good ideas. Perhaps the best way to figure out if you like a school AND demonstrate interest at the same time is to take an official tour of the school.


Step 4: Determine Admissions Chances

Now is the time to sit down with your college counselor and determine your chances of getting into your favorite schools. Compare your GPA and testing scores with students who have been admitted, and discuss the other highlights of your application to find out which schools are “likely,” “target,” and “reach.”


Step 5: Revise and Narrow Down Your List to 6-8 Schools

Ideally, you will apply to 6-8 schools. At least two of those schools should be “likely” aka “safety”. It’s also a good idea to have a couple “reach” schools, and the rest should be “target”. Congratulations… you did it! You have your “COLLEGE LIST”!


Contact Campus Bound for help with any step of the process. A counselor who specializes in college admissions can help you make a great college list! Contact us for a free consultation at 888.843.5560





You May Also Like…