Expert Tips in Making your College List

Expert Tips in Making your College List

After you have made a detailed list of all of the colleges you would like to attend, it is time to narrow it down to the ones where you will apply. The majority of school counselors recommend that students apply to 5 to 8 colleges. Choosing more than those numbers will take more time and energy and isn’t really necessary. So, how do you make your college list more manageable? Read the tips below to help you get started.

How To Narrow Down Your College List

There are many things to consider when deciding where to attend your post-secondary education. The majors offered, the location of the school and the school size are common factors to consider. Here are other pertinent facts to put toward your decision:

  • Housing options
  • The variety of academic programs available
  • Study abroad and specialty programs
  • Financial aid package options
  • On-campus activities and clubs

One of the best ways to narrow down your list is to visit as many campuses as possible. By arranging college visits, or relying on virtual campus visits, you can get a much better sense and feel of what it will be like to attend that location.

How To Sort Your College List

After you have determined the list of colleges you would like to attend, take it to the next step and further sort it into 3 categories. Here are the categories:


Your ACT or SAT score is in the same range compared to last year’s freshman class. These colleges are decent matches for you overall and you feel that you have a good chance of being accepted into them.


Your ACT or SAT score is higher than the average score range compared to last year’s freshman class. This list is of colleges are ones that you can afford to go to and have a good chance of meeting the entry requirements. These locations should be schools you would enjoy going to.


Your ACT or SAT score ranks lower than the average score of last year’s freshman class range. These are the schools that you consider being a challenge to attend and acceptance is not a sure thing. However, it is realistic enough that is worth applying to. Always remember that colleges don’t just focus on your grades, they consider the total package.

Balancing Your College List

From your sorted list, you should choose:

Ideally, once your list has been sorted, it is a good idea to choose

  • 1-2 reaches
  • 2-4 good matches
  • 1-2 safeties

When you take time to research and complete a balanced list, you are adding colleges that you might not have previously considered. Your list needs to reflect which schools can meet your needs and contribute to your success. The best way to secure this is to create a list that showcases your needs and your wants.

Quality is much better than quantity when it comes to your college applications. You need to complete every portion of the application very thoroughly. Admissions officers can immediately detect if you are not that serious about attending their location. Of course, they are most interested in students who genuinely want to attend their institution.

Rely On Your Support Network

The process of applying to colleges can be time-consuming and stressful. Remember, there are plenty of resources to help you. Your family, your teachers and your school counselor are all great options. You don’t have to complete this process alone. Speak with your support network to think about different options that will help you decide which are the best schools to apply to.

There will be multiple schools that will suit your needs. Narrowing down your options to include the best possibilities can help you make a great choice. Once you have scrutinized your results, you will be better prepared to choose a college that will be happy to welcome you into your freshman year.