Finding Your Perfect Match: How to Identify the Right College Community for You

College is more than just an education – it’s an experience that goes beyond the classrooms. The right college community can shape your student years and beyond, impacting your learning, social experiences, personal growth, and your perspective on the world.

In our upcoming webinar, “Finding Your Perfect Match: How to Identify the Right College Community for You”, we aim to guide high school students in exploring more than just academic offerings when considering a college. Our focus is on helping you understand how to evaluate the various elements of a college community and how they align with your personal values, interests, and goals.

The webinar will address the following aspects of a college community:

  1. The campus environment: urban vs. rural, small vs. large, etc.
  2. Social climate: fraternities, sororities, clubs, sports, and more.
  3. Cultural diversity and inclusivity.
  4. Student support services.
  5. Community engagement and volunteering opportunities.
  6. Residential life and housing.
  7. Opportunities for personal and leadership development.

Our admissions specialist Maria Acosta Robayo will share her tips and strategies to identify and evaluate what factors are most important to you and how to investigate these aspects during your college search.

“Finding Your Perfect Match: How to Identify the Right College Community for You” is an interactive, student-centered webinar designed to equip you with the tools and understanding necessary to discover a college environment where you will thrive, not just survive. Whether you are early in your college search or nearing a decision, this webinar is a crucial step in aligning your college choice with your personal aspirations and needs.

Date 06/27/2023
Duration 40:26

Webinar Transcription

2023-06-27 – Finding Your Perfect

Match: How to Identify the Right

College Community for You

Lonnie: Here we go. Hello, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisors webinar,

“Finding Your Perfect Match: How to Identify the Right College Community

for You.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’re going to first begin

with a presentation, and then we’ll have the opportunity to answer your

questions in a live Q& A.

Before we get into our presentation, let’s first meet our panelists.

Maria: Hi, everyone. My name is Maria Acosta Robayo and I was a student at

Harvard graduating in the class of 2020. Uh, where I studied sociology and

global health policy and where I was a pre med student.

Lonnie: Nice. Nice So Maria, we are going we’re very excited to learn more

about this topic as we know that You know definitely talking about community

college is a topic of interest and it definitely relates to students finding their

right match So we’re going to jump right into our content for this evening

Maria: Amazing. So, um, I think a lot of times students are asking themselves,

okay, not just what college do I want to get into, but what college would be

actually good fit for me? Where would I thrive? Where would I be able to find a

community? And so there are several different standards that you can, or

different factors that you could look at when you’re trying to find what makes a

good fit.

Uh, the first is thinking about what you want to study there, right? First and

foremost, Going to college is an opportunity for you to expand your education.

And so looking at a program of study, um, can get you, can give you a better

sense of what type of community you want to be in. Um, for example, do you

want to be in a community that is going through, um, a curriculum that’s liberal


So liberal arts is, um, usually have like a core set of classes that no matter what

major you take, you, you, um, you choose, you still have to take those classes.

And the purpose of that is to give you a more well rounded education so that

you’re not only taking classes in your given major. Um, do you want to maybe,

um, then looking at like what specific majors or minors do you want to be in?What community, for example, like if a major at your school is very big and

there’s hundreds and hundreds of students in that major, you may have, um, a

lower like faculty to student ratio where you have maybe not as much attention

or maybe not as much as, um, opportunities to interact with professors and get

their direct feedback.

Um, have them be your mentors or, um, sponsor you in research. And so that

might be something that folks are looking at when they’re looking at a good fit

in terms of the programs of study. Um, another category in that is, uh, study

abroad programs. So sometimes, uh, students really already know that when

they’re going to go into college, they want to study abroad.

And finding a university that has, um, large study abroad, uh, programs.

funding, um, and networks can sometimes help students to find that community

of people who want to, um, maybe learn lots of different languages or be

involved in different cultural applications of their, of their studies. And so that’s

another, uh, kind of lens to look at this.

Then another marker of a good fit is the financial aid. Um, this is actually a

really important part because a big consideration can be how much, if any, debt

you want to be in. And so finding a school that matches your budget, matches

your family’s budget, matches your ability to, um, pigeonholed into something

where you need to pay off that debt very quickly.

Um, that’s an important consideration. Location, uh, is another marker of a good

fit. For example, you might be someone who, uh, really wants to be near the

city and you might be looking at schools that are in big cities, like potentially,

you know, I’ll use Boston as an example. There’s a lot, there’s Boston

University, um, there’s Northeastern, and then right across the river, you have

MIT, you have Tufts, you have Harvard, and then you have Harvard.

Um, and so looking at maybe a hub of schools, um, is something that you might

be interested in if you’re looking to be in a city. So hub of schools near a big

city. And again, another example could be, um, New York City, right? Then you

have a hub of like NYU, Columbia, Syracuse, or, um, SUNY. Um, and so that’s

like an opportunity to look at what type of, um, Location would be best for you

and then using that location to find schools that you want to apply to.

Um, similarly to if you’re someone who doesn’t want to be near a big city and

maybe you want more of like a campus bubble. For example, Princeton is a

prime example of that where you have your Princeton bubble. There’s a collegethere. There’s transportation. There’s trains that go into bigger cities, but you

really aren’t surrounded by the bustling city.

Another marker of a good fit might be ranking. So if you’re looking at, um, you

know, schools that you, you know, you want to really apply to some of the top

schools because you’re really interested in Um, getting like that, that title, that

getting an opportunity to open a lot of doors, you know, that’s not a negligible

consideration, uh, definitely schools that are higher ranked just often attract a lot

of professors and a lot of opportunities often have a big endowment, and so that

ranking sometimes correlates with other things in this list, like financial aid, like

professors, which I’m going to talk about now, um, So, you might be looking at,

uh, schools that are a good fit to you because they have maybe a professor that,

um, does a lot of, or pushes a lot of the work.

In the area that you want to study. So for example, you might be looking at the

field. You may be wanting to study math and you’re looking at who’s pushing

like the best research in like pure math or theoretical math. And you know that

that person’s at Harvard, you might want to go there for the specific purpose of

doing research with that professor taking a class from them.

And so oftentimes when you’re looking at, uh, where you want to go, and if that

falls within like a one, uh, scope of, of focus, program of study or major. If

you’re looking at who are the experts in that field, you can also find where

they’re at, where they’re pushing their research. And that might be a way for you

to find a good fit for you.

If you’re interested in, in being in that field or pushing that research as well.

Um, postgraduate opportunities. So another example with Boston is, uh, for

example, I knew I wanted to go to medical school and part of that was doing a

lot of, uh, research hours and going and, uh, uh, shadowing. And so looking at

postgraduate opportunities meant that I needed to look at where there were, uh,

close, like nearby hospitals where I can go and do that research.

And. For me, Boston was a perfect hub to do that. Uh, and then two other things

that I think oftentimes go together is extracurriculars and culture. Um, so the

culture of a school will change just based on like the cohort of students who get

in, uh, potentially the leadership that’s there. There’s a lot of different things that

can influence culture, but.

Uh, even within like a big school culture, if you find communities in

extracurriculars that you’re interested in, those will have cultures that may cater

to you even more. So, for example, Harvard oftentimes is looked at at a placewhere there is, um, you know, it’s a place to share ideas and to have a lot of

intellectual conversations.

And while that’s true for the university as a whole, something that I found is

like, there is also opportunities to just, you know, Be yourself without always

having to have your brain on and to be goofy and to ask them questions and,

um, just go out and explore. And I found a community similar to that.

And, uh, I was part of the outdoor club where we would often go and, uh, we

did ice climbing and went on hikes and there was an opportunity to just let go of

all of our intellectual energy. And even though that was the culture of the

school, uh, within outing club, it was an opportunity to be goofy and fun and to

discover new places.

And so for me. Being in a place that was overall, like, very intellectual, but

having pockets of places where I could just be goofy and be myself, um, was

really important for me. So what factors create different cultures at different

colleges? So, uh, student composition can be part of creating a specific culture.

So if you’re going to, um, uh, an all woman school, uh, for example, there is, I

think, uh, Wesleyan, um, Wesleyan, there’s like a couple other like all female

schools, and that will definitely change the culture versus like a co ed school.

Um, if you’re going to a school that has a lot of ethnic diversity, that might also

change that the culture there might be a place where you’re learning about lots

of different, um, world views, um, just, music, languages.

Um, and so that’s maybe we’ll have a different culture than maybe a more, um, a

school that just has like one demographic or a lot of people from like a specific

town go there or just in a state. You know, a lot of people are from in state

instead of out of state or international. Um, so looking at the student

composition can sometimes give you a bit of an insight into what the culture

might be like.

Then there’s academic composition. So for example, if you’re going to a liberal

arts school versus like maybe a technical college or a vocational college, there’ll

be a different culture to that as well, right? Because in liberal arts schools,

you’re oftentimes getting people who are, you know, maybe studying to be an

engineer, but they’re taking classes like in ethics because that’s part of the core


And so you have folks who are, um, again. Discussing their individual work and

program of study, but oftentimes with a lens that is catered to more than justsomeone who’s like in STEM or also an engineer. Whereas maybe for a

technical college or a vocational college, you’re learning very specific skills and

you’re diving really deep into that.

And again, the pro of that is you get to have more in depth conversations about

specific, um, a specific like program of study or field, but you’re losing out on

like that more well roundedness that can. Allow you to speak similar like

academic languages between different people in different majors. Um, and so,

for example, um, a hybrid of that can be MIT, which if you go on their website

says that they combine technical training with liberal arts education.

So that’s a place where you can imagine. Okay, there’s gonna be folks, probably

a lot of folks who are doing a lot more technical skills, probably a lot more in

the STEM field, but they will still be uh, taking those liberal arts. Classes that

might allow them to step out from that in depth program of study and be able to

resonate with folks who are maybe doing something completely different still

within stem, but maybe someone who’s doing biomedical engineering versus

someone who is doing like aeronautics.

Um, and so that that’s just an example of how different. Um, curriculums of

different schools and the way that they’re composed and their academic

curriculum is composed can also change the culture of how people are talking to

one another and relating to each other. Um, the leadership of schools also can,

uh, determine the culture.

So depending on, um, you know, sometimes schools go through periods where

there is, um, like scandals or a lot of drama, and that might change the culture

for a given year versus the next year where someone comes in and has

completely different ideas and they reset the environment. And so. Again,

there’s some things where you can look at leadership and see, okay, are the,

who, what are their backgrounds?

What are, what were their, uh, trajectories before they got to being a leader at

the university and get a sense for how might they set the tone? Um, and then

there’s like unpredictable things again, like, you know, You know, once in a

while there’s scandals or things that happen that disrupt that culture.

And so again, those are maybe two ways of thinking about it. Kind of the things

you have control of, which is looking at what leadership is there. And then the

things that just happen more spontaneously, um, professors, uh, is another way

that can also. Just shift the culture because, you know, there’s, like I mentioned,

if you find a professor that you’re really interested in working with andfollowing up in their, uh, their research, then that allows you to have like a

micro community where you find a culture of people who are really passionate

about the same thing as you.

You could have like a network of mentors, depending on the professors that you

have and how close you are with their work. Um, and then extracurriculars.

Again, I alluded to that before as a place that, um, you can kind of have like a

micro-culture within this bigger organization of a university. Um, and lastly, as I

mentioned, cohorts, um, each year can be different.

And so, uh, that’s kind of the, that’s a random aspect of you’re not really sure

until you get on campus and you, you know, you kind of make, you’re part of

your cohort culture and you get, uh, an opportunity to be part of that and how

you mold, uh, what your class year will bring to the university that year.

So what should you be looking at when you’re researching colleges? So that’s

this kind of a list, uh, as you can probably see is repeated from another. Uh,

from a slide that I already covered, but I think these things are probably one of

the biggest markers of things that you should consider when thinking about

applying to college, not just for the culture, but also just for.

The practicality of knowing, you know, how much financial aid am I going to

get, you know, is the major that I, that I like going to be here, are there, is there

a specific professor that I want to really study under? So these are all things to

consider and I’ll talk about in just a minute how this influences your school list.

So, for example, if you are looking at programs of studies, then you might want

to really index on whether you want to go to a liberal arts education or if you

want to maybe go to a technical college. very much. Or a technical university.

An example of this is like I, um, when I was younger, there was two competing

careers that I wanted to have.

I either wanted to be a doctor or I wanted to do Pixar animation, animation. And

I knew that to be a doctor, you could go to any school as long as you went to a

medical school later and became a licensed physician. And so for me, that

looked like applying to a lot of liberal arts schools where I could study, do my

pre med prerequisites.

Um, but also just be able to take a lot of different classes that would make me a

more well rounded person And if I wanted to go the picture animation route

Then I’d probably have to go to a more technical school where I learned specific

crafts in What went into, like, the technological part of that, like, and actuallydoing, like, vector designs and animation, sketches, all things that were a little

bit more technical and I probably wouldn’t get to do at a liberal arts college, and

so that’s how, you know, your idea of what you might want to do at school will

shift the way that you look at whether you want to apply to, um, you know,

liberal arts, technical, or vocational schools.

Um, another factor that can change your school list is the professional

opportunities and networking and so that kind of falls in if you again cross

reference this with the previous slide falls under like location because

depending on again, if you are someone who wants to be like pre met and needs

a lot of hours of shadowing or research, probably want to be close to hospitals

or to research universities or research institutions.

If you are wanting to be, um, a lawyer, for example, like Chicago is a big, um, a

big hub for a lot of law practices. And so a lot of people at UChicago are able to

do internships there during the summer because during the year they maybe are

able to volunteer at, um, at a law firm. So there’s different hubs like that.

Um, I would then say athletic divisions and ability to make teams is another

consideration. So if you’re an athlete right now and you’re looking at, uh, what

schools to apply to, you might also be looking based on which one’s a division

one team. Or our division one score division or D two or D three and so that’s

another whole layer of consideration, uh, and then financial aid and the ability

to graduate without or with less that is another big consideration that could

change your school list.

So, for example, if you’re looking at some of the Ivy leagues, often, well, all of

them. have, um, need based financial aid, and so you know that, okay, yeah, I

have to work really hard to get into the school, but once I do, they’ll look at how

much my parents make and just make sure that they balance that out and only,

you only have to pay, you know, based on what your parents can’t pay, um, or

you only have to pay based on what your parents can pay.

Your financial aid package supplements the rest that your parents can’t pay. And

then lastly, another consideration is social life and Greek life. Um, there’s folks

who come from families that are really involved in their fraternities or

sororities, and, you know, that’s been a big part of their life. And if that’s

something that they want to continue, then that might be a consideration of

whether your school offers the Greek life or social life elements, um, that align

with some of the things that you’re excited to do in college.Um, so then how do you figure out what you are, you specifically are looking

for in a community college? So, um, Before starting any research, I recommend

that students I work with just write the things that they’re most looking forward

to in college. So under the academic realm, like what are you excited about?

What do you want to do? Um, in the social realm, like what are the things that

you want to be involved with that, um, you’re really excited to do? What are the

extracurriculars that you want to join? Um, and then professional, what are the

things that, you know, if you are looking for a career again in medicine and

engineering, in law, in politics, like, what are the things that you want to do in

order to start getting prepared for that?

That might be internships, that might be resumes to do research. Um, and so

that’s, those are all things that, like, kind of categories of things that you can use

to start getting your brain, um, thinking about what you’re looking for in

schools, but without any of the biases of like, Oh, well, I already saw this school

has this, and this school has that.

So you just write down what’s on top of your head. If it’s a little bit, that’s totally

fine. That’s what the research is for. If it’s a lot, that’s totally okay. That’s all.

That’s also will help you to maybe Um, and then you can also expand your

search and cast the white net. Um, so then once you have those elements that

you yourself are excited to do, then you make, then I recommend that students

make a spreadsheet to fill in, um, as you do that research for each school, and

you cross check that with your own personal list.

So again, if you said, maybe, you know, I’m really interested in doing, like, I’m

really interested in going to politics, and I really want to do an internship, um, at

the White House, you know, you might be looking, wanting to look up for.

schools, maybe like Georgetown or GW that are in D. C. And can just give you

the proximity to those things.

Not that you won’t have access to those internships if you go other places, but

the fact that the schools are there just gives you that proximity advantage.

And then I think we’re, we’re skipping this poll just for, um, to save on time and

to make sure we get to a couple questions at the end. Um, but where can you

learn more about a college, a college’s community? So there’s a couple formal

and informal ways that you can do that. Uh, formal way would be to just go on

the school website and kind of get a sense for what students are doing, what

type of clubs are there, maybe what the vision statement is.Again, where you can look at the leadership of the school and maybe get a sense

of like who they are, what their background was like. Um, you can go on tours

and, uh, oftentimes the tours will talk a little bit about the school culture. And

then you could also talk to admission to the admissions office, um, and ask

about talking to current students.

And I think they honestly are probably the best, um, like medium to hear about

what the school is currently like. Uh, some informal things you could also do on

the side is you can look at YouTube, um, and look at student videos. And then

also look at blogs written by students.

Um, And then, so, um, you’re, my personal experience looking at a college

community before applying was, um, I applied to QuestBridge. Um, so, so this

is like what my experience was before even being at college and just trying to

get a sense for like where I wanted to go. Um, so I applied to QuestBridge at the

end of September.

QuestBridge is a program that helped, it’s like a, a way to apply in addition to

the Common App that’s meant to be for, Low income students who are wanting

to start their applications early. There’s an extra set of essays and it’s a way to

match low income students with some of the top tier schools. And so I did that

pretty early, submitted my applications in September, found out that I was a

finalist for Princeton, or that was a finalist for the program in October.

And then I matched with Princeton on December 1st. So by December 1st, I

knew I had gotten into, into Princeton. And so I just applied to schools that I

wouldn’t. Want to go even more. Um, and so when I found out that I had been

admitted to, I applied to like Harvard and Stanford, those were the two schools I

wanted to go to even more so than Princeton.

So I, um, got admitted to Harvard. I went to their admitted students weekend

and I just felt like the location was really amazing. And the campus was great.

Um, I really enjoyed the conversations that I had in the culture that I saw a lot

of people kind of just being there. show through the way that they were very

hospitable towards me, the way that they engage with other people who had

different beliefs and just engaged out of curiosity, um, regardless of similarity or

differences of thought.

And I thought that was just a really great environment. So, um, I, I really

enjoyed that, that part of the culture. And I, I decided to go there, um, as part of,

to, to not just be part of that culture, but add to that culture with my own diverse

perspectives. Um, so my experience finding community at college was, um, Isaw that in my first, uh, semester was actually really hard to balance, uh, the

work demands.

So like what my school work and, and. What I thought I needed to do in order

to do well, and then also the social pull to just spend time with people. It just

felt like everybody was making friends all the time, and so it was hard to

balance. Okay, when do I spend time, you know, making friends and building


And when do I spend time like just heads down doing my work? Um, but one,

my own way of finding that balance was I, um, Found a group of friends in my

freshman dorm who we all studied together and They remained some of my

closest friends years after graduation. We graduated three Almost yeah over

three years ago, and we’re also very close friends.

I met my like now husband or He was part of that freshman dorm and that part

of that crew that studied together. And so it was just one way to find People who

were maybe studying different things Thought different things, but we all lived

in close proximity and we all needed to work to, uh, work to get our, our work


And so our school work done and we just got together and did that. And so it

emerged, you know, getting my work done and also doing it with people that,

um, became lifelong friends. Um, I also try to join things that I personally

enjoyed and found new friends. Um, Just with like found friends who had those

similar interests, and so I didn’t have to choose between friends and things that I

liked it was I did things that I liked and found friends that also like that and

then, uh, being in leadership or mentorship positions where I could just be part

of building community with the younger classes.

Um, so some last advice is, um, as you’re thinking about community. And

building community at college. Um, you know, if you’re going to like any

university, you, you want to strive to be diligent and hardworking, but to also

not forget the value of building relationships and fostering community, um,

because college is just a really unique and amazing experience.

where you kind of have these built in systems to foster community. For

example, you have like new classes every semester where you meet new people

and you have um, extracurriculars where you could also meet people who like

enjoy the same passions that you do. Um, you have residential dorms. So again,

you have that close proximity to people.It’s like having a sleepover with people in like, you have your own room, but

people are all over very close to you and you can stay up late and Really good

chats. You can wake up and have breakfast together. Um, and that’s a really

special again, built in system that you don’t get all the time, especially after you

graduate, you know, you’re kind of living on your own.

He goes back to normal life. And so I would say definitely enjoy be

hardworking in, in, in, in all your endeavors, but also recognize that this is a

really special time. Um, and I would also say like, even if you’re thinking about

it in the way of like, okay, I really want to make the best out of my time here

also in terms of like building a career and getting a sense of what I want to do

and like refining the passions of the career track.

I wanted to do a lot of the times, the conversations that I had with friends, um,

were the ones that allowed me to get a better sense of like, do I really want to be

a doctor? Do I want to explore something else? Um, it helped me to, you know,

challenge some of my own beliefs and either Like refine those or, you know,

decide that I was wrong about something or actually change my perspective or

stand my ground and realize others were also changing the perspective, standing

their grounds and just refining.

It was kind of like those, um, iron sharpens iron scenarios. Um, And so I really,

I think that’s something that’s really special and you don’t always get. And so

this is, uh, it’s something to not take for granted. Um, and lastly, I would say,

um, don’t have the grass is greener on the other side mentality. And what I mean

by that is like, regardless of what, where you get into, um, there might be a pool

of thinking like, Oh, I wonder what, you know, so another student in a different

school is experiencing and that they have better opportunities or meet different


And I would just say like, The people that you’re meeting in your own school,

no one else will meet like you have a unique opportunity to explore the

opportunities given at your school to be with the people that are only at your

school that other people won’t get. And so just take full advantage of that.

And, um, I think. focusing on that and what you do have instead of what you

don’t or other things that you might want to have is going to just help you make

a better investment in your time in college.

Lonnie: Okay, thank you Maria for sharing this great information about how to

find your Thinking about your college community and how that all comes

together. Um, so now we’re going to move into our live questions and answers.So during this time, I will read the question out loud for Maria to answer it. Um,

If you are wanting to ask a question, please go ahead and write it in our public

Q and A tab.

And also just a heads up, we do have the handouts that are available for this

presentation. So you can find that by just clicking on handouts and you’re able

to download it. Okay. So my first question, um, which is a question I just

recently, um, received when I was working with a student of mine and they

asked, you know, like, how do I really like How do I like find a realistic fit.

So what’s your take on that? That question. How do I find a realistic fit?

Maria: Yeah. So I think sometimes it’s hard to reveal it, like to figure out like

what is realistic. Like, is it, um, realistic in the sense that, uh, regardless of the

rank, like it’s ranking based, like, you know, what might I realistically get into,

um, what might be something that like will actually match like my passions.

And so I think it’s important to separate like that. realistic in terms of like, who’s

going to accept me back? Like, where am I going to get accepted? And I think

that’s where finding a good strategy of applying to schools that are within your,

like, what you would want in a college, like, which colleges are your fit?

Like, and I would say, like, that slide of, Finding out, you know, what location

you want to be in, what programs of studies, what extracurriculars, like all of

that help you figure out like what’s your fit. And then the best way to figure out

like, okay, is there going to be a match? Am I going to be their fit?

Is to try to find schools that are your fit that fall under the target schools, the

reach schools, the safety schools, so that regardless of all these places that

you’re applying to, You know, whichever one accepts you, they’re just a

variation of like, as close of a fit as you think. Uh, because a lot of times

students just apply, like, I’m gonna just apply to the top, top ten schools.

And they don’t think about fit, they just think about ranking. Whereas I think a

better way to find like a realistic fit is to say, okay, Within the top 10 schools,

maybe two or three are ones that I actually think I would be a good fit for within

maybe a couple of schools that have admissions rates that are more like 25%,


These are the schools that would be a good fit for me. And then of the safety

schools, these are the ones that would be a good fit for me. And that way you

create something that you would be excited, a strategy that you would beexcited to go into any of these schools, instead of just being like, You know,

whichever school accepts me, regardless of whether I’m a good fit or not.

Lonnie: Nice. Nice. Um, next question is, what advice can you offer for a

student who just has no idea what type of college, what colleges they want to

add to their list? What advice can you give to that student for the students? Like,

I don’t, I don’t know what college, I can’t think of one college, but I know I want

to go to college.

How do you kind of help them with building out their list and finding their, their

fit factors?

Maria: Yeah. So a lot of times I ask students to think about where do they want

to live for four years. So just getting a sense of like, Do you want to live in state

or out of state? I think that can be one of the biggest questions like there’s

students who are like I 100 want to leave the state.

I want to go somewhere new. I want to have a new experience And so so that’s

helpful because that way you’re not looking at schools in the state There’s some

other students who are like I want to be in state, you know, I want to save

money I want to live at home or I want to be in the state that I love Maybe I

don’t want to live at home, but I want to live close enough to come back, uh,

and not spend a lot of time trying to get back for the holidays or whatnot.

And so I think with those students, it’s a lot easier because then you’re just

looking at schools within the state. It gives you a chance to be like, okay, what

are the rankings of the schools? You know, in Florida, I’m, I’m originally from

Florida. And so it’s easier for me to say like, okay, um, within Florida, let me

look at the public schools and the private schools that I’m interested in.

So it kind of narrows down at least the scope to location. Um, if maybe it’s also

a question of like, I have no idea where I want to live. I actually don’t care

where I live. Then maybe thinking about, okay. Maybe making a list of a couple

schools that are target schools. So schools that you feel confident that like, you

know, you could probably get in, it’s not a hundred percent assured like a safety

school, but their schools are like, okay, you feel confident.

And just making a list of schools that would interest you. And I think just

looking through you as Newsweek, like the rankings can just help to just get a

sense of like, okay, based on, and I think indexing on Not me. I think it’s

important, not because of like the title of the school, but more so because of the

admissions rate.Oftentimes, like higher ranked schools just have much lower admissions rates,

and that’s good to know. And the ones that are maybe more in the middle have

Uh, a higher admissions rates and the ones usually at the bottom or the ones that

are like, um, more so like you can get it pretty easily. A lot of the time they’re

like the safety schools, and so that’s not because like they’re like have a bad like

academic curriculum or any of those things, but there is a correlation.

If you find a list that’s only based on admissions rate, that’s great. I remember at

the time when I was looking at schools, I couldn’t find anywhere that had like,

All the admissions rates. Um, Bonnie, I’m not sure if you have a resource like

that, but for me, the only resource where I could see all the schools was like

more ranking based.

And again, the correlation between that was mostly like, okay, if I look at the

very top ones, these are probably going to be my reach schools. If I look at the

ones in the middle, those are probably going to be my target schools. And I

would cross check that with the actual admissions rates. And so sometimes just

reading through that can give you a sense of what’s out there and could be a

good starting point.

And then you can choose, like, okay, between maybe the top 50 schools or the

top 40 schools. These are the ones that interest me a lot. These are the ones I

don’t really care about, and you just use, like, a process of elimination. And I

would say, to me, that is, if you have, like, zero, zero idea, that’s maybe one of

the most level playing fields.

Lonnie: Yes. No, I really, I love that strategy that you just shared, um, looking

at the ratings and rankings and then also kind of looking at that mission data. So

the key here is, you know, research and so really spending time as you start to

do more research, you actually start to, you know, gather more information

that’s really going to help you with deciding what are those fit factors that are

going to be important for you as it comes to just, you know, building your

college list, thinking about the community that you want to have within your


Um, I heard you share just around like, you know, safety targets reach. Do you

mind just sharing what our audience, what that means?

Maria: Yeah. So for, um, there’s like usually three different categories in which

folks talk about, um, schools in terms of their strategy. So when you’re looking

at a strategy to apply to college, you want to try to be a little bit to diversifyyour applications so that you’re not all just applying to schools that are really

hard to get into.

And then there’s a chance that you might not get in or just apply to schools that

are super easy to get into and totally knock off an, a possibility to our cross out

a possibility to go to like a very highly ranked school. And so the way that that

folks are advisors usually talk to their students about the strategies choosing,

um, schools and that are reached target and safety.

And what I mean by that is the safety schools oftentimes have a very, very high

admissions rate or no admissions rate at all. Those are usually your guarantees

that regardless that no matter what you’re going to go to college. And those are

just really helpful to have. Again, they feel safe. That’s why they’re called safety


Then you have your target schools, which often have like a middle range

admissions rate. Oftentimes you think, like, there is no hardcore fact on this, but

anywhere between like 25%, 30 percent and up are just schools that have higher

admissions rates. You’re not guaranteed, right? There’s 70 percent like, as much

as 70 percent or less if, you know, the admissions rate is.

40, then you have 60%, 50, 50, like those, there is a percentage of students who

don’t get into those schools. So it is, it does mean that it’s not a guarantee, but

there’s a higher chance. And then there’s your reach schools. And these are like,

usually have very much lower admissions rates. Again, I would say maybe any

school that’s 25 and less falls under that reach school.

Again, that’s just personally for me, the way that I’ve been thinking about it.

Um, and as much as like, I think Stanford and Harvard had like two point

something percent admissions rates. And so that means that if there’s a hundred

people applying, like two people are getting in. So again, if you do the math,

very, very low percentage of people.

That means that you may be an absolutely stellar student, a great match for the

school. But if there’s just a ton of people and they have to decide, there’s a

chance that you might not get in. Or a high chance you might not get in just

purely by numbers. And so when you’re thinking about those three buckets, it

gives you a way to say like, okay, I might apply to, uh, two to three reach

schools, five to six target schools, and maybe three to four safety schools.

And that gives you three or four options of schools that you’re for sure going to

go to five to six that, uh, especially with the target school range, sometimesyou’ll get. Like good financial aid and you can, even if you choose to not go to

that school, you could just apply to it because then they give you a financial aid

offer that you could use as leverage to negotiate with other schools and get a

low, uh, lower financial aid or higher financial aid.

Lonnie: Nice. Nice. Um, if I’m looking to join like a specific type of club,

maybe like a sorority or fraternity, how do I find that information on, um, Like,

where do I find that information?

Maria: Yeah, so usually on every school website, they have a list of

extracurriculars, and part of that will be Greek life. So, you, you, usually they

will have, like, um, in their website, a specific tab where you can talk about,

like, where they can talk about the different clubs that schools offer.

Lonnie: Okay, so now I’m gonna share with you all more about the work that

we do within CollegeAdvisor. So we know how, you know, for those who are in

the room working with us already, we know how overwhelming The admission

process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourselves, our team

of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help

you and your family navigate it all in one on one advising sessions.

Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free

consultation Using the QR code on the screen. During the consultation, a

member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it

lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and


After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone

conversation with a member of our team. Okay, so now moving into our final

questions for our webinar. Um, so I know we spoke, you know, thinking about

fit factors and I know you spoke a little bit about like financial aid. So can you

just share again, like, you know, I, I want to have a really great college

community, but You know, I also am very concerned about like the cost of


So what advice can you offer to a student who may be in that situation?

Maria: Yeah, so I would just say again, looking at that strategy of applying to

multiple schools will just give you a chance to get just to have options. And so

you don’t get the financial aid that you want from some of your reach schools or

your target schools, then you could also take a, or sometimes even your reach

schools will give like incredible financial aid.Again, a lot of those are, uh, need based. Um, and so that means that, um, they

will only look again at what your parents make and make a decision on based

on that, how much aid they’re going to give you. And so, I would, I think the

best way to mitigate this is just to give yourself lots of options and then choose

what’s the best balance of financial aid and community.

Lonnie: Okay. So that is actually going to be our final question for this evening.

So thank you, Maria, for sharing more information about finding your perfect,

perfect match and how to identify the right college community for you. Please

stay tuned because every month we have webinars that are all geared towards

supporting you through the college application process.

And again, if you’re interested with meeting with one of a member from our

team, even after you exit this webinar, there will be a screen prompting you to

set up a call with a member from our team. So with that, Maria, thank you

again. Thank you, audience, for your time and good night. Hi, everyone. Good