4 STEPS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE LIST

Your college list is critical, because having the right one for YOU will determine whether you’ll have suitable options come spring of senior year. The wrong college list can greatly affect your admissions outcome, no matter how well you craft your applications. Here are key points to crafting a college list that is realistic, well-balanced, and filled with schools where you’d be happy to attend.

1) Compile your personal college selection criteria: distance from home, setting (urban, suburban, small town, rural), size, Greek life (yay or nay), coed vs. single sex, religious affiliation, diversity, academic offerings, academic rigor, campus’ vibe, student to faculty ratio, graduation rate, public vs. private, campus or none, activities in your interest areas, cost, and testing policies.

2) Explore colleges that fit most of your criteria. Visit these schools before finalizing your list –or visit comparable types of colleges to determine which criteria matter most to you. If you can’t visit, try virtual campus tours, exploring each college’s website, including departmental pages. Peruse college guidebooks, and talk with current students and alumni via social media platforms. For each college, collect and organize information for each of your selection criteria, and note pros/cons, making it clearer which are best fits.

3) Assess your odds of admission to each school. Investigate the academic requirements for admission and where your profile fits in each school’s acceptance pool. Evaluating your odds must also including examining the acceptance rate at each college. Then categorize each college as a Reach, Match, or Safety school in relation to you. Reach schools are ones that are not as likely for you, though not out of the question, either. Your overall academic stats are below those of the majority of accepted students at these schools and it would take something compelling on your application to override those odds. Reaches are possibilities to shoot for, but cannot be counted on. And for colleges that accept less than 20% of applicants, “reach” applies to all applicants, so recognize that even highly qualified students may be denied.

Match/Target schools are those that are in your “ballpark,” ones where you have a reasonable chance acceptance based on your stats falling solidly in range. Matches are where most students land.

Safety/Likely schools are those for which your profile is above the majority of enrolled students and don’t have a very low acceptance rate. Your safety schools are still very good schools and are “safe” only in terms of your chances. Everyone needs safety schools, and they ought to be ones you’d be happy to attend. Put two sure bet schools on the list to ensure a choice, just in case your reach or match schools don’t come through.

4) Compile a balanced final college list: about 40% Reaches, 40% Matches, and 20% Safeties. This often means 4-6 Reaches, 4-6 Matches/Targets, and 2 Safeties/Likelies, for a final total of 10 to 14 schools. Applying to more than 14 could be too many, given the efforts demanded for effective applications. Too few applications and you could be shut out!

Once you have finalized your carefully curated college list, you’ll have a solid foundation for embarking on the application process, allowing you to attend a school that is right for you.

This guest post was written by Susan Taub, ED.M., an independent college counselor based near New York City. For nearly 20 years, Susan has counseled students in the US and internationally, drawing on her experience of 40 years in a wide range of education roles. Susan received a BA from Tufts University and an Ed.M. from Harvard. Susan advises students starting as early as ninth grade, and has particular expertise in very selective college admissions and specialized performing arts degree programs. Learn more at college-wise.com.

Navigating the College Admissions Process

An experts’ panel plus workshops for parents and teens

The Cornell Club
6 East 44th Street
New York, NY 10017

Saturday, March 7, 2020
9:30 am – 2:30 pm

College admissions has changed dramatically in recent years. No longer is the “well-rounded” student assured their top choice. Testing has also evolved, with changes in the SAT and ACT, while college costs spiral upwards. How can families best help their children make the right fit?

The Cornell Club is proud to present a special program for alumni and families featuring a stellar panel of experts in the college admissions process who will demystify these issues in presentations and Q&A.

This is a terrific opportunity to get answers to your questions from a range of top advisors in college prep and admissions. Attendees are invited to tailor the day to suit their schedules and interests with a panel discussion followed by lunch and two optional workshops:

“Getting a Handle on the SAT and ACT”                                                        Presentation and Q&A led by Karen of New York Academic Tutor

“Tips and Pitfalls in the Common Application”                                            Presentation workshop led by Andrea van Niekerk

Event schedule:

9:30-10:00am:  Registration and coffee/light breakfast
10:00-12 noon:  Panel presentation
12:00 noon:  Lunch Buffet
12:30-1:30pm:  Workshop: Getting a Handle on the SAT and ACT
1:30-2:30pm:  Workshop: Tips and Pitfalls in the Common Application

Participants include:

Andrea van Niekerk is a College Admissions Consultant with College Goals. Andrea was formerly Associate Director of Admission at Brown University for many years and also served as academic advisor to freshman and sophomore students. www.collegegoals.com

 

Laura Clark is long time director of college counseling at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. She previously worked at Princeton University, in admissions for four years and teaching freshman writing in the English department. www.ecfs.org

 

Benjamin Bingman-Tennant is the National Director of Programs for A Better Chance, a national organization dedicated to creating educational opportunity and developing leaders among young people of color throughout the country. www.abetterchance.org

 

Karen of NewYorkAcademicTutor.com, a graduate of Brown University, is a college test preparation tutor of over 20 years’ experience. Karen also lectures on SAT/ACT prep for Brown University’s Admission Workshops series at Summer@Brown. NewYorkAcademicTutor.com

 

Cost: $40 individual, or $60 for up to three family members.
– Registration includes all presentations, continental breakfast and luncheon buffets.
– Registrants may attend any or all of the presentations offered.

Why apply Early Decision, Restrictive Early Action or Early Action?

Top colleges and universities are receiving a record volume of applications on a yearly basis. With a limited number of seats in each entering class, the consequence is an appallingly low admit rate. Take Cornell University – perceived as one of the easiest Ivies to get into. Just seven years ago, its admit rate was 16.2% and now it hovers at just over 10%. In that same period, Harvard’s admit rate went from 5.9% to a record low of 4.59%. If the trend holds true, the class of 2023 and beyond may face stiffer competition among the single-digit club of elite colleges and universities.

Applying early to a binding program such as Early Decision (ED), Restrictive Early Action (REA) or a non-binding Early Action (EA), is the best way to hedge your bet and increase your chance of getting into one of these illustrious schools. The advantage is HUGE! It’s a known fact that the admit rates are more generous in early admissions than regular, with some two to three times higher than the regular decision admit rate. For Harvard, the rate was even more extreme at 14.5% in EA yet only 2.43% in regular decision. What’s important to know is early admissions program are a tool for colleges to confidently admit those who qualify academically and have a profound love for the school. In the words of Dean Fitzsimmons of Harvard, ‘early admissions is the new normal’ in which Harvard over the past several years has offered admission to 950-960 students, well over 60% of their expected enrollment of 1500 first-year students. Harvard is not alone in leveraging its early admissions program. Princeton is expecting to enroll close to 1300 students for the class of 2022, with 800 admitted from their REA.

Clearly, an admit rate in regular decision of 3-5% is something you should avoid if at all possible. Applying early can increase your odds of acceptance very significantly. Remember, students with 4.0 GPAs and perfect SATs are in plentiful supply at these schools. Differentiating yourself through quality involvement in and outside of school, articulating your passion for learning and succeeding via the supplemental essays, and committing to your college choice in the early admissions process are key to defying the ridiculous odds of getting into an Ivy-Plus institution.

This guest post was written by Solomon Admissions Consulting, an international college admissions consulting company based in New York, which helps applicants apply to and be accepted by colleges, MBA and MD programs, and private schools.