How To Find A College I Love?

by | Jun 28, 2024 | College List

What does it mean to be thoughtful when building a list of colleges or to have a thoughtful college application list? It’s more complex than it may first appear. This self-reflective process can be difficult, productive, and rewarding. 

At Campus Bound, we identified five steps comprised of tasks you may do repeatedly or only once. You can go up and down many times. You can even skip a step! Each is designed to help you build a thoughtful list of colleges you love. 

Step 1: Analyze Surroundings and Identify Priorities

“Priorities”  are the key characteristics that are most important to you in your college search process. No two students are alike, so establishing your priorities will involve soul-searching, organizing your thoughts, and affirming your choices in various ways. This includes assessing what you like about your current learning environment, visiting local campuses, and conducting major and career research. 

The content in each category is developed by YOU, the student. Constant reassessment and shifting will be necessary.  Campus Bound counselors constantly work with students over meetings to help them articulate their interests.

Step 2: Exploratory Research

After you’ve spent some time reflecting on what’s important to you in a future college experience, you’ll want to start the process of affirming or rejecting those assumptions through another type of work: research. This can be done online, through visits, and with your Campus Bound counselor, for example. 

Step 3: Targeted Visits

When on campus, go in with a plan – What are you looking for?  What questions do you need to be answered based on your priorities?  Ensure you see your priorities confirmed (or not) when on campus. Then, reflect on your experience. Does the thing you’ve identified as vitally important actually matter so much to you? 

Step 4: Refine Priorities

What a student starts with in terms of interest often changes. This is a process of refining your priorities. The more you explore, the more you grow—and the more you know about what you want, the more you’ll develop a list of colleges that are right for you. 

Step 5: Balance  

Have you heard about “balancing” when it comes to college admission? At Campus Bound, in addition to guiding our students through this process and suggesting schools to explore, we spend time making sure students apply to an appropriate range of colleges from an admissibility standpoint. Beware of a list that has too many schools in one category. Some students think that applying to more highly rejective schools increases your chances of getting into at least one, but this is a myth.  To us, balance also means that you really like all of the schools on your list, and for concrete reasons.  You should also try to read beyond the general statistics about admissions.  For example, acceptance rates may vary if a school is trying to build up a department or has an institutional priority.

Developing a thoughtful college list is not easy, but it’s worth it. This process is about so much more than talking with friends or checking out social media sites to see what colleges seem cool. Thoughtful analysis, conversation, and ongoing discussions with a trusted human should be (and are, at Campus Bound!) key components of a successful college search and application process. 

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