Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re gonna be applying to college soon. Arguably one of the most stressful parts is creating a list of schools you want to apply to, and getting one started and refining it can be difficult. Throughout my college application journey and some trial and error, I’ve come to find methods that I felt were extremely helpful and I hope you find them helpful too.
What colleges did people from your school choose in the past?
With the help of social media, finding out where recent alum from your school now attend is easier than ever. Most people put their school in their social media bio’s, but there are other methods to find this information. For example, many high schools have student run Instagram accounts. These accounts state where members of the graduating class are going to spend their next four years. Other schools have a matriculation list (where people have gone in the past few years) available. There are all great resources to find some names you can research further.
Ask a college counselor
If your school has a college counselor, they can be a great resource. For example, my school’s college counselor got to know me and what I want in a school. Then created a list of schools she thought would be a good match. The majority of them ended up making it to my final list. Once again, it’s important to do research on your own, but this provided a more specialized starting point that was extremely helpful.
The Fiske Guide is a yearly book published with information on 300+ colleges and universities. It’s a great way to read in depth about specific schools and see what fits you. They also have lists in the front rating them on cost, learning disability support, strength in specific programs, and other useful factors. You can buy The Fiske Guide on Amazon or other online marketplaces.
Niche is a website with information on practically any school you can think of. They rate schools on a wide variety of factors, and sorting through their lists can be a great way to find schools that have what you need. For example, if you’re someone who cares greatly about the quality of the campus food, you can read over that list and click on schools that interest you to learn more.
Touring schools is a great way to see what you’re interested in. If your family is taking a trip up to Boston, might as well look at some schools while you’re up there. Another great option is virtual tours. Although it’s not quite as helpful as seeing the real thing, they do still provide valuable information and demonstrated interest (for those of you who might not be familiar with that term, some schools track how interested you are in schools through college tours and other events. Not every school does it, but the ones that do factor it into the admissions process).
The Spreadsheet Method
Now that you’ve got an idea of some schools that interest you, you can create a college spreadsheet. This is where you can keep track of schools and important factors they have. This can help you compare everything at a glance and narrow down your list further.
Bonus Tip: Scoir Scattergrams
At my school, we use a website called Scoir to help track our college process. One tool available to us is the analysis scattergram. You can see how your stats compare to others who also applied from your school and what their outcome was. It can be a good way to gage your chances of being accepted and help you create a balanced list of schools. If you don’t have Scoir, your school might use another program you can play around with and see what tools are available to you. Click here to learn more about Scoir scattergrams, how to understand them, and how to view them.
It’s no secret that the college application process is stressful. However, I hope that this list could help provide a jumping off point for those of you just starting it. Keep in mind that each individual has different needs when it comes to creating a list and the length/variety in schools will be different for everyone, and in the end it’s important to create a list of schools you would be happy to attend.