Building Your College List
Struggling to build your college list? We’ve got you! Join CollegeAdvisor.com as Admissions Experts and College List Team members Brynlee Emery and Arianna Lee provide some best strategies and practices on how one can build their college list. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-06-29 Building Your College List
[00:00:00] Hi, everybody. Welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anisha grant. I am a senior advisor here at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator for this evening. Welcome to Building Your College List. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelists.
Um, and I am one of the two team leads of [00:01:00] the college list team. Um, and I graduated with, from Georgetown in 2019 with my undergrad in history and government, and, uh, went to the university of Illinois at urban Champaign for grad school. Awesome. I’m Arianna Lee. I, um, am also a senior advisor here at CollegeAdvisor and I am also a team lead with friendly at, uh, the wonderful college list team.
So any questions you have? Let us know I was graduated, uh, undergraduate, um, I graduat with a bachelor’s in neuroscience, uh, in 2016 from Dartmouth college. And it’s been a long day. Apparently. no worries. Well, we’re excited to have you both here. Um, so we’ll kickoff, before we get dive into the presentation with a poll, we just wanna know how old are the folks in the room, where are you in your high school journey?
Um, and so we’ll give you a few minutes to let us know[00:02:00]
what was your experience like at Dartmouth, Arianna? I, I just always think about how cold it is in, in New Hampshire. So I’ve never, yeah, it, it is. Um, I’m, I’m from Detroit, Michigan though. Okay. So I went from a, I went from a city to kind of the middle of nowhere. Yeah, it was, it was beautiful, beautiful scenery, but, um, definitely a different vibe.
Yes, for sure. Awesome. All right. Well, we’ll give folks a few more minutes to fulfill the slide in, let us know what grade levels you’re in thus far. It looks like the majority of folks are, um, older and they love it than 12th grade, but we’ll close it in about five seconds. All so
all right. So yeah. Um, so yeah, we, I was correct that about 19% of folks are, um, 10th graders, 24% or [00:03:00] 44% rather are 11th graders. 33% are 12th graders and the rest are ninth grade or other. So I think in thinking about it, it’s killer folks who are right in the middle of getting this list thing started. Um, so hopefully that gives them helpful guidance.
Um, for you both, as you move forward in the presentation, I will, uh, I won’t sign off, but I will go off camera here and let you all dig into the presentation. I’ll be back later for the Q and a awesome, thank you. Sounds good. Okay. Um, well I think Arianna and I will just kind of switch back, um, on the slides here so I can get started.
Um, so it looks like most of you are, are aware of this, but we’ll start off with what is a school list. Um, quite simply it is the list of schools that you will be applying to. Um, and especially if you’re, you know, a little bit younger, maybe you’re a junior or, um, you know, a sophomore, this might be a list of schools that you’re just exploring.
[00:04:00] So it might be really long. Um, but eventually by the time you’re a senior, it’ll be, you know, the, your kind of final list of the applications you’re gonna be sending in. And in terms of numbers, um, things have kind of changed in the last couple years. Uh, we used to always say, apply to between eight and 12 schools, because that is usually enough to give you options without like totally overwhelming you.
Um, and that’s still a good number of schools to apply to, but, uh, kind of with COVID and, uh, a lot of places going test optional and a lot of students applying to more schools, just because of all of the uncertainties post COVID, um, it’s. And especially if you’re applying to a more competitive major kind of engineering premed, um, It is still doable to do kind of more 10 to 15, a little bit on the longer side for that list.
Um, especially if you start early, [00:05:00] which all of you are. Um, so even if you’re a senior, you are not behind. Um, but yeah, usually, you know, somewhere between eight and 15, depending on a lot of different factors that you can talk over with your advisor, um, but, uh, you know, a good solid number of schools that give you options.
You, you know, will have choices when it comes down to decisions, but, uh, that won’t completely take over your life while you’re doing your applications. And this school list is also always balanced between, or, or ideally should be balanced between what we call safety match and reach schools. And we’ll be going into those into a lot more detail for those a little bit later in the presentation, but just kind of keep that idea of balance in mind as we go through the slides here.
Awesome. Um, so what factors should a student consider when beginning a school list? Um, so definitely want to look at, um, really like the academics. What are you [00:06:00] planning to major in, what is your intentions for the future? And does that school kind of fit that motif as far as having offering those particular programs?
So if you’re looking at schools that are, um, that have a particular BSM D program or a, uh, humanities, particular humanities program or study abroad, then you wanna make sure you’re doing the research and make sure the school offers that. Um, and then also you wanna look and see if your GPA, um, and test scores kind of align to the school as well.
And that’s something that, um, the college list team does as, as well. Uh, if you provide that, we can kind of look and see kind of if that school, um, would be a particular fit, uh, for you in that regard. Another thing when beginning your school list, look at the fit or culture, um, do you have particular religious affiliation or, um, Greek life?
Do you want your school to reflect that diversity [00:07:00] campus, pride, um, index? Are they, um, uh, politics? Is there a particular region that you want to, um, you know, stay within, those are all things that you wanna consider as well. And of course, location, you know, uh, depending on how important that is, like, like was mentioned earlier, if you are not a fan of the cold, then perhaps New Hampshire might not be the place for you.
Uh, but you wanna look at what the school kind of offers, whether you want a rural environment or urban. Um, if you wanna stay close to home, you also have, wanna think about the cost with location as well. How much will a plane ticket be back home? And, you know, uh, housing, um, how much do, how much is your scholarships gonna cover versus the tuition?
And you wanna start planning those particular aspects out in regards to your list as well? Yeah, so, um, Like I kind of said [00:08:00] earlier, uh, all of you are in the perfect time to start planning your school list because it’s never too early. And, uh, there, there is a point where it’s getting a little late, but it’s also never too late to change things.
Um, so you’re, you’re all just fine. It’s the end of June. Um, even though of you who are going into your senior year, you’ve got a lot of time before you really need to have things totally figured out. Um, but especially for those of you who are junior, sophomores and younger, uh, this is a great time to start.
Flooring. Um, so kind of freshman, sophomore year, um, or, you know, if you are, you know, in eighth grade or younger two, this is a great time to start thinking about, you know, what kind of school do you want to go to? And this has a lot to do with like exploring majors and careers as well. Like what do you wanna do?
Do you wanna be a writer? Um, do you wanna get a degree in accounting? Like those are all really different fields and you might find all of them equally interesting right now. Um, so it’s, you don’t need to worry about narrowing [00:09:00] things down at this stage of the process. Um, but just start exploring schools that you like, maybe schools that you’ve heard of, maybe schools that your parents or siblings attended, um, maybe schools that friends are interested in and just kind of get a sense of what is out there and what sounds appealing to you and what sounds not appealing to you.
Um, I know when I was applying, um, I hated PE in high school. And I did not wanna go to college and have to take a PE class and gym classes in college are not the same in high school, but like, I just did not want that to be a requirement. And so like, that was kind of a silly deal breaker for me. And we’ll talk about deal breakers later, but that was something that like, I paid attention to um, when I was looking at schools, um, you know, and it that’s kind of a silly example, but it could be also like, you know, a particular major or area of concentration within a major.
Um, it could be your proximity to a [00:10:00] city. Maybe you really love that kind of city life. Um, maybe you wanna live in New Hampshire, I guess, new Hampshire’s getting called out today. Sorry, New Hampshire. Um but, uh, you know, Just think about kind of what, what life might be like at, at any of those different schools.
And just think about those preferences and work on developing those preferences. Um, because by the time you get to your junior year and you’re starting to like, think about things more seriously, um, you’re gonna wanna have a clear idea of what your preferences are, because if you don’t have any, then you might get to a school that like.
Looked fine when you were applying to it and you might find out that you hated it because you didn’t take time to think about what your likes and dislikes are in a really honest way. You know, that, that first little while, um, and of course you can be thinking about your preferences through your junior and senior years as well.
Um, and you’re never like walked into anything, but, you know, that’s, that’s something that’s really easy to start from a younger age as well. [00:11:00] Um, so by the time you’re at your junior year, you want to start to think about narrowing that down. Kind of have like a long list of schools. Um, when we at the college list team make a list for students, um, we will usually combine, um, the, the list of schools that they know they’re already interested in, um, which is anywhere from.
One school to maybe 15 schools, um, with schools that we think match their preferences really well, or that align well with their kind of academic interests or, you know, something. And we, we try and give students a list of about 30. 30 to 40 schools. Um, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Um, but somewhere around 30 is a good kind of long list length because it still gives you a lot of room to narrow down.
Um, but it lets you concentrate your search and your research a little bit more. So it’s not just like you’re diving into everything um, and there’s kind of no boundaries on where your [00:12:00] search might take you. Um, so it just lets you be a little bit more focused. Um, junior year is also a great time to start visiting campuses.
If that’s something that is, um, you know, possible for you, you know, whether by geography or you know, anything else. Um, but another benefit of post COVID is there are a lot of virtual tours available, um, both formal and informal. We have some available through CollegeAdvisor as well. So check those out, um, and just start to kind of take notes of what.
What schools on that list of, you know, 30 or so that you really like and what ones that you’re, you know, kind of met about, um, and over the, you know, course of like your, the spring of your junior year, the summer between your junior and senior year, really work on narrowing that list of 30 down to kind of your final list of summer between eight and 15.
Um, and that, that should set you up really well to, you know, write your supplemental essays on time and to think about what schools you’ll [00:13:00] apply to early versus regular decision. Um, if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry about it. Um, but, uh, helps you helps you to kind of frame the rest of your applications process.
Awesome. Um, so what are some tips to help students narrow down their list as they get closer to applying? So. The biggest thing. Um, obviously you do want to, uh, prioritize what is most important to you? Just like Brinley said, like come up with that list of must have slash deal breakers. Um, think about what you want, your Stu, what you want your experience to be.
Um, what type of programs are offered, uh, student to faculty ratio, maybe that’s important to you, maybe you’re from a smaller, uh, school and you kind of wanna keep that smaller environment. So you want a school that is also small. Think about all of those, um, all of those factors, as well as [00:14:00] you’re narrowing down your list.
And then on top of that, I don’t know if you all know how many essay, how many supplemental essays most schools tend to have, but most schools tend to have like two to three supplemental essays that are, that are required for their application. So the longer you wait, the, you know, I was, I was a procrastinator back in my day.
I know how it is, but the longer you wait, the harder it is. Uh, so you wanna try and get, you know, narrow down your list and really, um, put schools that are most important, uh, to you first. Um, and then also when you’re coming up with your deal breakers really, uh, Really a write out questions that maybe you can, um, ask if you’re still on the fence about certain deal breakers, whether they’re gonna truly cross off a school from your list, maybe ask those questions during a school tour, or maybe talk to a friend or, or, or [00:15:00] teacher that might have gone to the particular school that you are interested in.
And so you can get any feedback that way it can become easier to narrow down that list for you. And then of course, balance balance, balance, safety match, and reach. You don’t want all of your schools on your list to be reach, and you don’t necessarily want all of your schools to be safeties as well, unless that is something, unless those are all schools that you wanna go to.
Um, but you definitely don’t wanna all reach on your, on your list. Uh, it makes it a lot. You, you wanna make sure that you have a healthy balance of all, um, to ensure that, um, you can, you can make a decision that you will be happy with at the end. Mm.
Okay. Um, so back to that balance, um, in more detail here, uh, so as I’ve said, eight to 15 schools should be kind of what you’re targeting. Um, depending [00:16:00] on, you know, your major, how competitive the schools on your list are. Um, you know, if you’re applying to the IVs and like one safety school, eight schools is not gonna be enough
Um, but you know, if you are, um, you know, applying for less competitive major, and you’re just going for like your local state school and maybe like one or two other schools in your state, You might be fine on the lower end. Um, I, when I applied, I only applied to six schools and I like cannot believe that somebody let me do that.
Um, because that’s just like, not enough , um, I, I had a really reliable safety school and so like, it was, it ended up fine. It worked out. Um, but if I was advising me a long time ago now, um, I would be like, just add like two or three more schools to your list. Um, you know, it’s not gonna hurt. Um, so you, you also don’t wanna be on the other end of that and think that like more is better because you [00:17:00] it’s, it’s better to have fewer, really high quality applications than it is to just like, try and like hit as many schools as you possibly can.
um, with relatively weaker applications. Um, so quality over quantity, but like, you wanna have some quantity there. Um, like Arianna said for options. So we recommend having at least two safety schools on your list. Um, and this is because, and, and this, this should be safety schools as kind of determined in consultation with your advisor, or if you don’t have a package with CollegeAdvisor, maybe with your school counselor or a trusted teacher.
Um, because, uh, we’ll, you know, we’ll talk about this a little bit more in depth, uh, in a few slides here, but we’ll constitutes a true safety school. Um, Is maybe different than what you’re expecting. Um, a lot of students will put like kind of their, you know, local big, like flagship university on their safety, but [00:18:00] oftentimes those schools can be actually relatively competitive.
Um, you know, university of Wisconsin for example, is, uh, you know, it’s a fantastic school that has a lot of students applying from out of state. And so even though it might have been, you know, a pretty reliable safety school for someone with your profile, like 10, 15 years ago, we might wanna consider it or to match just to be safe.
Um, again, COVID is kind of made like estimating these categories a little bit trickier because. Students tend to be applying to more schools right now, or at least they have been for the last few years. So we wanna just be extra conservative in how we categorize schools. Um, but you know, think about these, these true safety schools, try and have at least two of them.
Um, or if you have like a guaranteed admissions program in your state, like if you’re in Texas or something and you know, you’ll have admission to at least one state school, if you’re fine with that, um, that can be your safety. You don’t have to have like another one, but generally two safety [00:19:00] schools at least is recommended.
Um, and then in terms of the matches and the reaches, things can change a little bit depending on your goals. Um, this is, again, something that you can talk over with your advisor or, um, you. Communicate with the college list team about, um, because you know, for some students it works really well to have, you know, kind of a, an even number of matches and reaches other students are like, I’m really actually very happy with kind of my match schools.
I’m not like looking to shoot for like the most competitive school in the country or anything. Um, maybe put like two of them on there just to see what happens, but I’m not like that invested. That’s totally fine. Um, that’s great. Maybe you also have another student who is like, I’m, you know, I’m really good going to, you know, Arizona state university that was, you know, the big public school by me when I was in high school.
Um, I’m really good going there. Uh, I, you know, don’t even care if I’m in the honors program, [00:20:00] but I’m gonna go there or I’m gonna go to an Ivy league. So I’m applying to there and all of the Ivys that’s. We would maybe suggest adding a couple more schools in the middle there, but like that’s also fine. Um, we just wanna make sure that you have at least one school that you’re like going to be accepted to in the spring so that we don’t have to have a really difficult conversation about, um, you know, deferring for a year and going through the applications process again, uh, we want you to have choices um, so some balance between matches and reaches is a good idea, but having at least two safeties, especially safes that you’d be genuinely happy and excited to attend is kind of the most important, like non-negotiable factor here.
The, the rest of the balance depends on your goals and kind of, you know, what you’re looking for in your college experience.
Right. Anisha. I think we’ve got another poll. Yeah. Um, well thank you both for sharing, uh, all of that [00:21:00] thus far, that was really helpful to hear, uh, for me at least. Um, so yeah, we’re gonna start another poll just to see where folks are in the application process. Um, so let us know how deep in you are. Hang on, sorry.
Um, into the process. Um, I appreciated what you shared earlier Briley about only applying to this colleges. I also did the same and I, I know I applied a few, several years before you did and, and it was also a, a scary process, but thankfully it worked out. But yeah, I feel like students need to find the balance between applying to so many where you break the common app and two few where you don’t really, um, spread out your options and choices.
Yeah. I think the common app actually only lets you have like 20 yeah. Rules on there, which like. Don’t apply to more than 20. Like , don’t do that to yourselves. I’ve made a conversation with a student right now. Who’s like, so I’m gonna do all 20 on the common app and then I’m gonna go to the coalition app.
I was like, okay. [00:22:00] I dunno. Um, but if that’s the choice, um, but yeah, yeah, no, I, I really want, I think, yeah, all, all that to say. I think the, the context I’ve giving is really helpful and, and timely given the experience. I also have working and connecting with students. Um, and you can only go to one school.
You only did one school. No, I said you can only go to one school. You can only go to one. Okay. that’s yeah. That’s also the advice to try to give, like, you can apply to all of these, but it’s just one, it’s just one at the end of the day, but yeah. Um, I guess we’ll get few more seconds, but I think. The majority of folks, it looks like have started researching.
So I think this, this is timely for the majority of folks in our, in our conversation right now, I’m gonna close the call in about five seconds. So yeah, we can see that about 20% haven’t started, but 60% are in the process of researching a solid 15% are working on their essays [00:23:00] right now. And 4% are getting their applications together.
Um, so no one is almost done, which is good, cuz we’re in June. So we’re far from anyone having to be done. There’s plenty of time. Uh, but that’s where our audience is for now. Awesome.
Awesome. So what makes a school reach, target and likely? Um, so if we wanna look at the breakdown of what makes a school, a reach, um, Really it’s, it’s really considered, uh, 40% chance or less of acceptance. So if you wanna look up like the school’s particular acceptance rate, that would be typically below 20%.
Now, if your profile, if your respective, uh, profile, um, is less, let’s say your GPA is less than what their average accepted, uh, student is, or your test scores are [00:24:00] less than what their average accepted student is, or, um, your weak on extracurriculars. Those are particular things that would be factored in as well.
Um, but that’s just standard for what a reach school is considered now, target or match. That would be, that would mean that you have about a 40 to 80% chance of acceptance. So, um, again, that means that you are. Your profile aligns with their average accepted students. So if your GPA and, um, test scores, extracurriculars, all those particular things kind of match with what their particular average accepted students profile is you have a higher chance, a match chance of getting in.
So to say, um, there are always factors at play, right? Like I’ve seen, I’ve had a student, um, I’ve, I’ve known someone actually personally that, uh, got into all of the IVs, but did not get into their local school, [00:25:00] um, that they really wanted to go to. They really wanted that particular school to be accepted to.
Um, so it kind of hurt them that they didn’t get into it. So I don’t ever wanna say this is a hundred percent, but this is just, these are statistics to kind of, um, go through your college list and, and have as a, uh, As a measure, um, and then likely or safety, um, that means that you’re greater than 80% chance of acceptance.
So that means your profile exceeds their average accepted student. Your GPA is a lot higher test scores, et cetera, all exceed what the typical student is that goes to that school.
Yeah. So how, how do we determine which of these categories your schools fall into? Um, that is like 90% of what we do on the match team or not on the match team on the college list team . And these are kind of the factors that we’re [00:26:00] considering when we’re, you know, taking a look at a student’s profile and making our best estimations of what category these schools would fall into for them.
And again, I wanna emphasize it’s, these are always like. Estimated categories. There’s nothing certain about any of these. Um, but you know, we can, we can do our best to kind of, you know, target these, these ranges to give you a better idea of like, having that good balance with your list. Um, So, and also keep in mind that if you have used the college list team, we estimate things on the conservative side.
Um, so if you’re kind of on the border between like, you know, a school is, you know, maybe it’s a match, maybe it’s a reach, like kinda hard to say what it is. Um, I, I default to putting that in the reach category and then I’ll make a note and say like, you know, school X, Y, Z is not like as hard to get into a Stanford [00:27:00] for you.
Um, even if they’re both in the reach category, but, um, you know, it’s, it’s more kind of on that border, but we’re just estimating conservatively. So just, you know, with all the uncertainties and applications, you know, admissions, all of that, um, better to be on the safe side than to, uh, you know, be on the not safe side.
Um, I think I’ve told this story on college list webinars before, but when I was a junior and like, starting to think about my list, um, you know, I was a good student. I was a valedictorian. I had a good test score. And so I was like, yeah, like Stanford looks like a match for me. Stanford’s not a match for anybody.
And, um, just that is, that just doesn’t make sense. I was not estimated conservatively. Um, so, you know, we’ll, we’ll take that into consideration with your list as. But the other factors that we consider are, uh, you know, first of all, academics, so what does your GPA, what are your test scores look like? Um, if you, [00:28:00] if you don’t have, you know, a GPA or, or like a, usually you have a GPA, but there’s been a couple cases where you haven’t, but, um, you know, what are your grades in your classes?
Um, if you don’t have test scores, have you taken like a practice exam that we can use? Are you really not planning to use test scores? And that’s helpful for us to know as well? Um, so we take that information into account. Um, if you’re just doing this on your own or with, you know, someone, uh, like a counselor at school or something, there are often like Maes available on college search sites, like niche.com or like big future or something where you can click into a SU a school’s profile and see like, you know, if I have, um, you know, this GPA and this test score.
How do the accepted students from last year align with that. Um, and so that’s, that’s something to consider there. Um, that’s, that’s kind of the most important thing, um, where we’re looking at [00:29:00] those first and if your academics are kind of, well below the threshold, it’s, it’s probably going to be a reach, even if you have really stellar extracurriculars with like some exceptions.
Um, but that’s, that’s kind of the primary criteria that we use. Um, next up is your extracurriculars, which is also a, you know, pretty big part of the consideration. Um, both kind of, how many have you been involved in? Has it been, you know, if you’re shooting for really selective schools, has it been, you know, at least, you know, seven, eight activities kind of over the course of your high school involvement?
Ideally closer to 10, um, cuz that’s how many spots the common app has. So if you don’t have 10 listed, we might probe you to see if there’s anything else we can count as an activity. Um, As well as the, you know, kind of depth of your involvement with those various extracurriculars. Um, have you been a club officer?
Have you, you know, maybe you weren’t a club officer, but you spearheaded a new initiative or a new project, um, [00:30:00] kind of where have you shown leadership and growth during your involvement with this activity? Um, those are things that we really like to see and we like to consider as we’re kind of deciding these categories for you.
Um, next up, and this is something that we don’t have a whole lot of insight into just because of the data that we have access to. But, uh, if your school has something like Naviance, you can see how students have performed in their applications in the past. Um, and so it can give you an idea of kind of where, how your school’s waited kind of in.
Applications decisions. And like, it doesn’t matter so much, like what school you go to versus what school you don’t go to. But sometimes, uh, schools will have sort of a like feeder relationship with a particular university. So, um, I, uh, I knew somebody in college who went to a school that was fairly local and was known to have a kind of feeder relationship with Georgetown, which really just [00:31:00] means that like, you know, of their thousand or so graduating.
Students every year, probably like three or four of them every year would end up going to Georgetown, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but, you know, there’s only like 1200 or so accepted students. And so when you think of all the high schools in the country, that’s actually quite a big percentage of the Georgetown class is kind of coming from this school.
It’s just because like maybe the admissions officers have a good relationship with the school counselors and they kind of understand the curriculum and how, you know, you’re what kind of classes are offered and things like that. It’s not the biggest deal in the world if you have that. And it’s definitely not a deal breaker if your school doesn’t have that, but it’s something to kind of keep in mind.
Um, so another, another way to think about that is like, are you taking the most difficult or most challenging classes available in your high school? If you’re shooting for those, you know, kind of most selective schools, um, or kind of with, with other [00:32:00] schools kind of across the spectrum of selectivity, um, Are the classes that you’re taking in your high school preparing you well for the classes available at that school, um, or kind of, are they comparable to other students who are applying to that school?
Um, so it’s, it’s kind of hard to measure, but think about using Naviance if your school has that, um, access. Um, and then finally, like I said, schools with the acceptance rate below 20% are always reaches, no matter how, you know, stellar your background is. Um, I’ve had students and parents email me and, um, complain because I considered UCLA a ma or a reach school instead of a match school.
Um, it wasn’t a ding on the student. They might still have a really good chance at UCLA. Um, it doesn’t mean that UCLA is out of reach. Um, it just means that UCLA is a really competitive school and, um, It’s just going to kind of be in that reach category because there’s no [00:33:00] student where we can kind of guarantee a better than 40% chance of acceptance.
Um, unless you’re Moala, um, she’s my example of, you know, she, she could probably consider UCLA or Stanford a match, but, uh, you know, unless you’re, Moala, it’s a reach for everybody. Um, and, and again, these are kind of hard things to determine on your own. It’s hard to kind of step outside and be objective.
So your, your advisor through CollegeAdvisor is a great resource for you. Um, if you are not with CollegeAdvisor yet, uh, your school counselor is also a really great option and, um, you know, even like a teacher or, um, parents can be great. It helps as well. Um, maybe talk to some people that are a little bit more objective as well.
Um, but just try and talk with somebody outside of just yourself to kind of determine these categories.
Awesome. So when should your school list [00:34:00] be finalized? That is wonderful question. And really, uh, you, I always say that earlier the better, um, however your final list should be done, um, no later than like mid-September of your senior year. You really wanna think in terms of your deadlines as well, right?
Like how much time do you need to prepare a quality. A quality application, like Briley had mentioned earlier, as far as quality versus quantity, you wanna make sure that you are getting the quality, um, in, so make sure you’re strategizing with your counselor or advisor on how you all are gonna do early action versus early decision schools.
Um, and that can kind of dictate as far as what, you know, um, how you prioritize your college list. So remember that schools like, um, duke and the UNCs, they have slightly earlier deadlines. I believe they’re like, um, mid to early October. So you wanna even maybe [00:35:00] finalize those even earlier. Um, and then same thing for the UCS too.
Their, uh, deadlines are by November 30th. So you might not have that regular decision, um, timeline with those as well. So make sure that, um, Make sure that you finalize no later than mid-September, um, reevaluate after early results. So if you’re getting, um, and I’m sure everyone will do well after their early, uh, early decision or early action rounds, but if anything comes, uh, any results come that you were not anticipating, or that you were anticipating, maybe this is a time to change or alternate some of those schools, uh, that you were debating on, um, or maybe commit to schools that, uh, that you have positive results on.
Um, and then also keep that, uh, must have and deal breaker list handy as well. Cuz this is a great way to create your priority list as, [00:36:00] and your backup list. Um, work with your advisor, the college list team we’re here for you. Um, if you have any. If you need to get your college list reorganized, maybe it is close to mid-September and you kind of wanna go through and say, Hey, are these schools, are these schools the right match for me?
Are, am I, did I, um, not chance them conservatively enough, you can always get your list reviewed, um, with the quality assurance review with the college list team as well. And we can kind of help help you with that. Um, too.
Yeah. So as you are, you know, working on your college lists this summer and leading up through mid-September, um, how do you, how do you decide what schools to keep and what schools. To remove. Um, it’s really easy to kind of start by thinking about like the positives, [00:37:00] you know, what are the best schools in your program?
What are the schools you’re most excited about? Um, but you know, you’ve, you’ve already narrowed your list down to, you know, maybe 20, 30 schools. Uh, and there are schools that you’re all excited about at some level. So when you’re trying to get down to like 12, um, it can be helpful to kind of shift your mindset a little bit and think about like, well, what could I not live with?
Um, so that’s why, you know, I, I tell you to start thinking about your deal breakers. Um, is it that like you do not wanna be in a really hot climate? Um, like you just hate to be sweaty all the time. Hello. Um, and like you, you can’t, uh, you, you just can’t like imagine dealing with that for, you know, your four years of college.
Um, that’s really good to know because it might be that a school’s really great, but. That might be a big enough detractors to take it off the list. If you have, you know, 30 really great options to choose from, um, is [00:38:00] it that, you know, you’re looking for a very specific major and this school that you, you know, really love in a lot of ways, uh, you know, maybe it’s a really great cultural fit.
Maybe it doesn’t have your major. Um, you know, maybe that’s something to think about. Like, could you be happy with another major, but if that major is like, what you wanna do, then that could be a reason to take a school off the list. Um, I had a student several years ago, uh, I think my first year working in, um, college advising who she wanted to major in like technical theater with a lighting design focus.
Um, And I didn’t even realize that was a major . Um, you know, when we started working together. And so there were a lot of schools that she liked that we talked about that like, they didn’t have her major and that’s what she loved doing. And so that was, that was a deal breaker. That was a priority. Number one for her, um, that her school had this lighting design technical theater major.
Um, so that was, you know, something. You know, there are a lot of schools that she [00:39:00] liked that she was like, yeah, no, if it doesn’t have what I wanna study, then we’re not applying there. So that’s great. Um, you gotta narrow it down somehow. Um, and that’s a really important, good, good rule to use. Um, other potential deer deal breakers could be kind of the level of diversity.
Um, if it’s like a kind of predominantly white institution and you’re not looking for that, if it’s, uh, you know, maybe a, uh, H B, C, U, or a Hispanic serving institution or something, that’s something that’s important to you. Maybe, you know, that’s, that’s a priority you consider. Um, maybe there are, you know, like Arianna said earlier here, maybe there’s kind of.
Campus political leanings, either way that you can or can’t live with. Um, maybe there’s a particular religious affiliation you’re really looking for maybe there, maybe you wanna go to a school with no religious affiliation. Maybe that can be kind of a way to narrow things down, but go back to those preferences and think about like how well do these schools align with my preferences [00:40:00] and you know, what, what is really kind of coming in conflict with what I’m looking for?
Um, because there are, there are 4,000 higher education institutes institutions in the United States. Like you’re gonna be able to find a school that’s really great for you. If you’ve narrowed it down to 30 options that are awesome. It’s okay to like, be like, kind of nitpicky about. Things that might seem silly or little, um, when you’re narrowing it down to that final list of schools, you’re really gonna apply to, um, something else to consider.
And Arianna also alluded to this earlier is sort of what I call like the ROI on application effort. Um, like if you say it’s December 15th, applications are due January 1st and you want to take some time off to celebrate some holidays with your family. Um, so you have time to like, you know, write, say like five more essays.
Um, [00:41:00] you could apply to Princeton, which has like five essays or you could apply to two or three other schools and think about kind of what, what that balance is. Is Princeton your dream school. Um, is it totally worth it to apply? Even if it means you’re not gonna have time to go to others? Is Princeton like a total reach for you.
And you’re like, you know, a C average student and it’s realistically probably not going to happen. And you could instead apply to, you know, two or three other schools that are more in your reach or no, not reach target range, um, and then maybe have some more options come marched. Um, so think about those kinds of things.
Just the amount of time you have to write the essays and kind of, you know, prioritizing some schools in the, in the target range. Um, and maybe the kinda lighter reach range, rather than just all schools with like, you know, a sub 10% acceptance rate. Um, [00:42:00] Think about that again, there’s no right or wrong answer, but just things to be keeping in mind as you’re working through your list.
Um, something else to think about is, you know, where else have you been accepted? Um, like if you apply early somewhere or like somewhere with like a rolling admissions process, um, have you been accepted somewhere already that you’re gonna be happier attending than the school whose application you’re currently working on?
Um, so maybe, you know, you, uh, you’ve gotten into, um, the university of Maryland and you’re working on your Cornell application and the university of Maryland is like where you grew up imagining you’d go, you’re really excited about it. You wanna see kind of what happens with those reach schools, but like you’re not too jazzed about Cornell.
Um, it might not be worth it to apply if you’re already accepted to somewhere that you’re happy attending and that you’d be happier attending than you would be. That [00:43:00] school that you’re working on, um, or, you know, kind of, uh, like Arianna was mentioning on the last slide, if things don’t go well, as well as you hope on the early round, are there any other schools that you could kind of add to your list, especially with kind of lighter applications to kind of give yourself those options again?
Um, but without too much work. Um, and then finally this is like a little woo woo. But like, is this a school you can see yourself attending? Is what does your gut say? Um, is this something that you, um, like. Maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper. Maybe it looks like your profile is, or your preferences are really misaligned with what the school has to offer.
I think carefully about that, but if it’s a school that you’re like, I just can’t get it outta my head and I really wanna go, I really wanna apply. That’s also. Okay. um, but, and also on the, you know, reverse side as well, is this a school that you’re like? Yeah. I mean, [00:44:00] like there’s just something about it that I just don’t think is right.
If you’re narrowing down your list, like that’s perfectly legitimate as well. Um, so there’s, there’s no right or wrong way to narrow down your school list, but these are some things that you might be able to kind of walk yourself through, as you’re thinking about it, as you’re moving from the exploratory phase to the I’m starting to write myself a mental essays phase.
Awesome. And of course, resources for building your wonderful college list. We have our college list team. So please feel free. Uh, if you are working with a, uh, CollegeAdvisor, um, and you have questions regards to the college list team, they’re already aware. So, but you can, you can, you can say, Hey, can we have this list reviewed?
Um, can we see if there are anything that can be added for my interest [00:45:00] in English or psychology or whatever programs that you’re not, you’re maybe not as familiar with, but you, uh, you have a passion for, um, and you trying to figure out what schools coincide with being in the DMV area. That’s that also specializes in programs in psychology.
And you want to, you want the list built for you. We can do that. Um, You would just have to fill out a questionnaire with you and your advisor, and that will be something that will be turned into us and we’ll be able to help craft, um, your list, uh, for you, but you’ll still have to narrow and do the research yourself, um, online resources as well, niche.com, CapEx, big future, uh, college simply, um, your peers, your teachers, your, uh, YouTube, any, you know, any resource where you can look and, and kind of see, [00:46:00] um, what schools align to what you’re already involved in.
Um, like Brinley said, maybe even talk to your friends, where are they applying to? Why are they applying to the schools that they are, um, talk to your school, counselor, talk to your advisor, um, really get a feel for, for different colleges. I wasn’t as familiar with the schools that were available either. I had to.
Google, how to use Google and kind of figure out, Hey, what schools are great for neuroscience or for medicine or for, I didn’t know. And it’s okay to not know. You’re not expected to know. And that’s what these resources are here for. Um, so feel free definitely to, um, reach out and utilize them.
And I’ll also say, um, CollegeAdvisor.com also has a newly revamped, um, college search system that just kind of rolled out like this last week and it is awesome. Um, so as, as people that spend a lot of time on college search sites, uh, CollegeAdvisors is [00:47:00] really good and it is free even if you don’t have a paid account with us.
So plug for that as. awesome. Uh, well that is the end of the presentation part of our webinar. I hope we found it really helpful. Um, in going through all of those kind of characteristics and qualities, keep and mind as going through your list, we’re gonna move on to the Q and a just wanna remind folks that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab.
Um, I know some folks already started submitting some questions, but you can submit your questions through the Q and a tab, um, paste, and then I will pace them into the public chat. So folks can see them read them aloud before our panelists will give you an answer. Um, also for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the college admissions process can be our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigated all in a one-on-one advising session.
So if you want, you can take the next step in moving forward with CollegeAdvisor. Uh, we have this handy dandy QR code, [00:48:00] um, which I am trying to get to. Um, so you can, uh, scan the QR code that’s on the screen, and that will allow you to register for free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist.
During that meeting the goal of that, the goal will be to review your extracurricular list and application strategy and discuss how they line up with your college list and then outline some tools you’ll need to stand out in the competitive application. Um, so wanna just give that plug really quickly, but then we will move on to our Q and a and let me open up the chat and see what questions we have going in, uh, quickly.
Yes, this webinar can be viewed again. We will make recordings available to folks. Um, and
I think this is a good question to start off with, um, thinking about the, the college list. So. [00:49:00] Uh, one student asks, how can I determine if a school has or will provide good financial aid?
You wanna take that really? Yeah. Sure. Um, so this is a great question. Um, there are a, a lot of things that you can do, and it kind of depends on what you mean by good financial aid, cuz that can mean different things to different people. But what I would start out with is looking at, um, whether a school meets.
100% of demonstrated need. Um, and there are, I won’t take up the whole rest of the time talking about, um, the architecture of financial aid in the United States, but, um, there are other webinars and blog posts and things going over that in more detail, but basically your demonstrated need is the, the number that comes out of your free application for federal student aid based on kind of your, and your parents’, uh, you know, taxes and financial information from the last year or so.
[00:50:00] Um, and it is the, basically the difference between, you know, what the kind of sticker price is for a particular university, including like, you know, tuition and room and board and all that stuff. Um, and what your family can, um, like actually pay. So your, your need is, you know, any number between those, those two ranges, um, schools that meet a hundred percent of demonstrated need.
Don’t leave you hanging for like anything left over. So, you know, if, if I have $10,000 of demonstrated need, um, and I wanna go to, um, you know, school a that meets a hundred percent of demonstrated need. They will cover everything in my, um, like all of my costs up to like that $10,000. Um, so I’m still responsible for that $10,000, but I don’t have to worry about anything else.
If I go to a school where they meet 90% of your demonstrated need, [00:51:00] they’ll cover 90% of the way I’m still responsible for $10,000 and that extra 10%. Um, so maybe that’s something that, um, you know, in reality I can cover, maybe I get a job, maybe I. You know, private loan, um, but that’s gonna be less strong financial aid package than the 100% of demonstrated need, um, schools.
So that’s, that would be what I would look for. Um, and if you just like Google, like school name, um, demonstrated need, you should be able to see their policies on that. Anything to add Arianna? No, I that’s. That was an awesome answer. I would say also too, with that, um, with the financial aid that you might get from the school, just be mindful that, uh, they do include like a work study or work aid.
And if you are a person that, you know, might not function well with working as well as doing courses that might, you might wanna get scholarship or, or [00:52:00] try to talk to them to reduce, uh, the work study function. When you get the financial aid, that’s all another conversation, but just wanted to be mindful of, I was a student that worked eight jobs while studying.
So. Something to keep in mind. I relate Arianna, those are my summers. I couldn’t do it during the school year. The summers I had to hustle. Um, the next question that, uh, has come up and I’ll actually take us back a couple of slides, just so that folks can see them, but wanting to ask, if you could expand on how would I go about researching colleges?
One student has specifically said, how do I find out about how good or strong a major is at a school? So any additional resources for researching, or even kind of deciding between good majors at a school? I, I honestly think niche is, is very, uh, good at that. It actually arranges the schools based on the ranked, um, strength of major slash program.
Um, I would, I would start [00:53:00] there and you can also, again, uh, go into the school specific academics and look at the programs that they might offer might be an internship or even, um, connections with. Particular things that you have of interest. Like if you’re pre-med, it might have a connection to a hospital in the, in the city or, um, near the school that you can work with.
Uh, I don’t know, Brenda, you have anything to add to it? Yeah, I would, I would second, um, using niche, like, uh, if you go into the portal, there’s some like different, um, kind of categories you can search by on the side. Um, and there is a place to like, choose your specific major. They don’t have all of them, but like choose the closest thing and they, they have rankings kind of.
Based on those majors and some schools have like, you know, just historically very strong programs and, you know, like Arianna said, maybe it’s because they have, you know, connection to the hospital system or like, um, you know, Georgetown has the best foreign service major [00:54:00] because it actually doesn’t have a foreign service or like kind of international relations major.
It has like seven of them. Um, it has a whole school for it. So like that’s, you know, just more resources and, you know, more things available to students in that area. Um, so yeah, I would, I would use that and then also talk to current students, um, that, you know, maybe friends, maybe like, you know, you, you can, you can always.
talk to alums or current students at a lot of schools through CollegeAdvisor and just get a sense of kind of their lay of the land. Um, and you know, talking to teachers or you’re a school counselor will help as well. Um, but, uh, in terms of just kind of easy access internet things, I would definitely go with niche.
Thanks. Y’all um, another question that came in and I feel like we just should, uh, address it is around early applications. So one student asked, um, can I apply for more than one school, [00:55:00] early act, early decision. And how does that work? Another student asked regarding early action. So I think it might be good for us to just address those processes and the numbers in, in that process.
Yes. Um, so early applications are a beast um, and there are a lot of different terms that overlap, um, But in short, early decision is means that you can only apply to one school early decision. So I think I saw a question come in, like, can I apply to, you know, two schools, early decision? And just, you know, if I get accepted to both just say, no, no.
Um, if you apply early decision, you are like, really you’re like signing a contract that you will withdraw any other early decision applications or any other applications you have sent out if you’re accepted, because if you are accepted early decision that is binding, um, you can only be let out if you have like financial circumstances and they can’t meet those with financial.
So it, [00:56:00] it can be really great. It, it actually gives you a little bit of a admissions boost. It’s not like huge or anything. Um, it’s, it’s not gonna turn Sanford into a safety school, but, um, it can help you a little bit if you’re kind of, especially if you’re kind of on the edge of like it being a match versus a reach school.
Um, so it’s, it’s not massive, but applying early decision and like committing to a school before you even know if you’ve been accepted, um, shows a lot of what’s called demonstrated interest and that can, you know, that can do well for you. Um, but it also, you know, is pretty big if you’re not 100% sure on where you wanna go.
Um, so like my best friend in high school applied early decision to brown. It was her dream school. It had been for years and she got in and it worked out great. And, uh, you know, that was, that was awesome. I’ve also had a lot of students in the past were like, I do have a dream school, but I. A hundred percent know that I wanna go there above all other [00:57:00] schools.
And so we don’t apply early decision. Um, and that’s fine too. Early action is a little bit it’s similar, but it’s different. Um, that’s the one where you can apply to multiple schools. So, um, you know, you could apply to five or six early action schools if you wanted to, with the exception being schools that are restricted early action, where it’s not binding if you’re accepted, but you can only apply to one early action school.
So it is complicated. Um, talk to your advisor or your counselor about more, but that’s, that’s generally the breakdown between those different early, um, programs. So again, early decision is binding early action is not great. Thank you. Um, Arianna, do you wanna add anything? No, I was gonna say, um, Don’t do it.
um, I mean, it could be nice. You can get, be done before, uh, the Christmas before Christmas, if you celebrate, but don’t, don’t [00:58:00] apply for two actually. No, yeah, no, don’t, don’t stretch yourself. Um, there’s a academic question. So it’s complicated. How important is GPA? I wanna apply to a selective school, but then how do you determine reach in other schools?
I don’t know if y’all could talk briefly about the academic considerations that going into deciding whether or not a school is safety or target. I know you kind of di spoke about it earlier, but if you could dive a little bit deeper today. Yeah, I would. Um, I would say that be mindful that your application is cumulative.
If your GPA took a hit your sophomore year, because you were going through trials and tribulations to certain things, this is. There are areas. There are areas in the application where you can explain that, um, also admissions officers like to see a progressive incline. Um, so if you did excellent, your ninth grade and 10th grade, but dropped off your 11th grade, they’re gonna wanna know [00:59:00] what happened.
Um, so if there’s no explanation to that, that could hurt you negatively as well. Um, and then I’m trying to remember the second part to the question. Uh, how do you determine if the school is a reach based on academics, I guess. Got you. Um, yeah. And then if your GPA, let’s say the average accepted GPA is a 3.8 and your average is a 3.6 or your GPA is a 3.6.
That would be considered a reach. If we’re gonna operate in the land of conservative, let’s not, you know, push this in the target category and set you up for failure. Um, let’s say that it’s a reach and you have that in your mind and you still apply, but you know, that it’s slightly harder chance of you getting accepted.
Mm-hmm I always like to tell students, like putting, considering a school, a reach doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. Um, so like [01:00:00] definitely still apply if it’s a school that you love and you’re interested in putting it in the reach category just helps you to kind of manage your expectations and, you know, you, you very well might still get in, uh, it’s it’s not like, you know, a write off or anything at all.
Um, so, you know, even if your academics are kind of slightly weaker than that average, or kind of that middle 50%, um, Of accepted students like that. That’s okay. Um, but just, just bear in mind, it’s gonna be trickier. Um, but yeah, in terms of determining whether a school is a reach based on kind of your academic, like, you know, so your score is your GPA.
Um, I usually say if, if both of them are kind of below that average or below the kind of middle 50%, 50%, um, then you definitely wanna consider that a reach. Um, and if only [01:01:00] if like one of them is kind of at the average and the other one is below kind of the middle 50%, then you’ll, you’ll probably wanna consider that a reach.
But if you have like, you know, really similar extracurriculars or something, you might be able to, you know, fanangle that into a match. But again, estimating conservatively, I would say if, if both of your. Score if kinda your, both your GPA and your test score, aren’t at least kind of at that average mark, I would just be on the safe side and consider it a reach.
Um, and again, it doesn’t mean out to reach. It’s definitely still possibility. It’s still, you know, something to include in your list, but, um, just managing expectations. Uh, I love that quote. I’m gonna keep it if, if, just because as a reach doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. Um, I love that, but we will have to end it there.
So thank you everyone for coming out tonight. Thank you to our awesome panelist friendly and Arianna. Um, and if you have any questions I’m, [01:02:00] or I’m sorry, we couldn’t get to everybody’s questions, but we will have some future webinars, um, in July. So we hope you gain some valuable strategies on developing your list.
Our July webinar series kicks off on the sixth with everything you need to know about BS slash MD programs. We also have a master class of supplemental essays on the seventh. I saw some folks asking you about that in the, in the Q and a, and we’ll also have a conversation about finding the right college community on the 11th.
One person asked about researching the cultural aspects of colleges, and I think that might be valuable for you. Uh, but thanks so much for joining us tonight. Thanks again to Briley and Arianna. I hope to see some of you at our future webinars until then have great evenings every. Thank you have a good one.