Advice for Starting Your College Search By Kristina Carroll, CollegeWeekLive

It’s time to start your college search! But with the thousands of options out there, how are you supposed to come up with such a small list? It’s definitely tricky to do, but coming up with the perfect college list for you will make your college application and decision process go much more smoothly. Here are some tips to help you get started!



Start Big

When you’re just starting to put your list together, don’t worry about narrowing it down to the schools you’re definitely going to apply to. It’s better to start with a larger list and do some research into each school before you cross it off completely. Once you have a list of all of the schools you’re interested in, you’ll be able to compare them with each other and determine which ones are the best fit for you.

Aim for a Balance

You’ll hear it over and over again—you list should include a combination of safety schools (schools that you are more than likely to get admitted to), target schools (schools that you’re likely to get admitted to), and reach schools (schools that you might not get admitted to). The reason for this is because you don’t want to be left with only one or two acceptances come May, and you definitely don’t want to limit your possibilities of getting into a competitive school either! Balancing your list this way can also help in terms of giving you more financial aid options—because many safety schools will provide you with a larger amount of financial aid and scholarship money than reach schools will.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Needs

Consider the most important things to you that you want your future college to have, and stick to them. For example, if you’re determined to study marine biology, and you find a school that has a great campus but no marine biology program, it’s probably not the best option for you. There are so many schools in the United States alone, that you are bound to find plenty of options that have everything you need, without you having to sacrifice things that are extremely important to you like academic programs, sports teams, or location.

If you’d like to learn more strategies for creating the perfect college list, check out Katherine O’Brien’s webcast from our Back to School Day.