Avoid Big Mistakes with Your College List

Juniors, as you begin to assemble the list of schools you will ultimately apply to, you must must must must think ahead about outcomes and possibilities.

Please refrain from being that student who assumes they’re a shoe-in at a certain school and applies ONLY to that one. What happens if the college admissions folks don’t think you’re a good fit? Than you’re out of luck and delayed in your college education.

There are hundreds of colleges to choose between, so you can be picky in regards to what fits your needs, academically and financially. Here are our tips to avoiding big mistakes in your college list for you:

Balance your list in terms of cost
You may fall head over heals for a school that costs way too money. But who knows? Maybe you’ll get scholarships or come across an abandoned pirate’s ship with a trove of gold and jewels. So, if you love a school, apply. Just in case though, find schools that you love almost as much that are more affordable and/or more likely to offer scholarships. That way, if you don’t get enough money to go to your dream school, you won’t feel shafted going to the one you can afford.

Worse case scenario: The only schools you get into are really expensive ones you love but can’t afford, and a school that you’re not crazy about that you can afford.

Choose a couple of actual safety schools
To answer your question before you ask it, no, an Ivy League college is not a safety school, even if you’re 150% certain you’re getting into Harvard.  There’s probably some actual stat like this: for every 1 student that gets into Harvard, 16 students are turned away. And if 35,000 students apply? Well, then…you do the math. So apply to schools where  you’re clearly in the upper percentile. Let me reiterate one more time, even if your parents recently gave millions of dollars to build a new library at the college you want to go to, apply to a couple schools that your guidance counselor said your chances were higher at. And you can always look at what your chances are on Cappex!

Worse case scenario: Your hopes are a little too high and you don’t get into any of the highly competitive schools you applied to.  

Give yourself options
Just like everything else in your life, your top college choices might switch around from one point in time to another. So even if you are completely obsessed with College A, you might have an experience that makes you like totally obsessed with College B. So do your research. Avoid pigeonholing yourself into only once choice.

Worse case scenario: Blinded by love for College A, you decide not to apply to any other colleges. You’re completely fine with your choice until you visit your best friend’s older sister at College B, which you didn’t apply to because you only had eyes for College A. Now, starting your freshman semester at College A, all you can think about is B. It’s a torrid affair.

The moral of the story? Watch out for your future self. Give yourself choices and opportunities. Oh, and good luck!

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  1. Steven Jackson says:

    Good pointers. Good ideal is to choose a top 6 by the start of your senior year. Rate them and apply. Make sure you can afford them and you can be just as happy at #6 as you would be with #1-2. Cannot overstate the part of affordability.

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