There are so many parts to the college application process that it can be overwhelming both to the students and their families. It can be so intimidating that you wouldn’t know where and how to begin. College is a huge investment, requiring effort, time, and other resources. In order to get started, you need to build your college list. Your college list sets the pace of the rest of your college life, and it’s important to refine and evaluate accordingly. Research shows that one-third of students transfer at least once, which is why it’s significant to make a college list best for you to avoid wasting time and money for a college that wasn’t a good fit in the first place. Starting to build your college list requires work, too, so here are some ways we’ve gathered on how to make a college list.
The best way to build your college list is to start with self-evaluation. Ask yourself some questions regarding your interests, your hobbies, your passion, and your goals for the future. These questions will aid you to focus on your college search, as it helps you create a personalized college list. It also gives you an initial sense of what you want to see and experience for this next phase of your life.
It is recommended to start the college hunt during junior year to give ample time for decisions. Making a college choice worth remembering requires strategy. The trick is not to wait until senior year, as that year is reserved for college applications. Waiting too long to make a college list could mean losing potential schools that could be a great fit.
Building your college list is one thing, but digging deeper to find more about these schools is another thing. Research is a highly significant part of the college process – and we can’t stress enough. Start by curating a list of all the colleges that you find interesting. Include all possible schools, from the top universities down to lesser-known schools. After that, dig a little deeper and find out if these fulfill your personal needs. It is also important to take note of these meet both your financial and academic needs, to make college memorable. Research on course programs, majors and minors, professors, as well as campus activities that you deem important on the school’s website. These days, schools bank on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, mostly handled by students. This is a good way to stay updated on campus news and events. This is also an avenue for you to reach out should you wish to find out more.
Keep an open mind
It’s easy to set your eyes – and heart – on colleges you’ve heard amazing things about. Getting started with your college list can get exciting, especially if the schools could be boasting about sports championships, famous alumni, or rich history. It could be your family’s alma mater, or your friends raving about it. However, remember to keep an open mind. Creating a college list without being open to other possibilities will be pointless. Be open to other colleges. Just because a college is well-known or your family’s alma mater doesn’t mean it’s the perfect fit for you. Remember that it is your future, more than making a college list, that’s at stake.
Talk about finances
Tuition fees at colleges are expensive, and go up every year. Creating a possible college list shouldn’t solely be about expenses. Ruling specific colleges out can narrow down college list fast, and possibly not for good reasons. It’s highly possible that the school offers financial aid, or you qualify for a scholarship. It’s important to talk about resources with your family – how much your current finances can be able to pay and how much debt you can take on. It is known that a lot of students apply only to state colleges and universities because of lower costs compared to private colleges. While that may be true, private schools offer large grants and generous scholarships based on either merit or need. It’s best to keep these on your draft of college list for future references.
Consider the distance from home
While it may not be the most significant aspect of your college decisions, creating an effective college list must also include your home. Remember that college is a huge phase of your life and requires many changes. Make sure the distance of the school from your home is something you’re comfortable with. There are things to consider such as the frequency of you returning home to see your family, dealing with homesickness, and even your medical condition. If these things are important to you, create your college list according to those. Your college life is but an aspect of your entire life.
Prioritize according to fit
At this point, you must already have a final college list, but there’s a problem. It’s a BIG college list. A college may be a good or bad fit, and it’s important to narrow down your college choices. Research emphasizes the implication of students understanding the difference between match and fit. The match involves factors that include your grades and scores. Fit, on the other hand, is more personal. It could include geography, a sense of belonging, and culture. Talking to your friends and family can also help narrow down colleges further.
Visit the college
While research can play a huge role on your notes listed as “my college list”, visiting the actual school can help in the process of determining the best fit for you significantly. There are information seminars with admissions officers, tours around the campus, and sometimes even seeing classes in session. Editing your college list is about what’s important to you, and if the academic courses offered by the colleges meet your expectations.
Making a college list is exhausting and time-consuming, but the long-term results are well worth it. Now that you know where to start, remember to keep editing your college list. Remember these steps on how to make a college list to keep you on track!