Choosing Your College List

 

          “There’s no magic formula for choosing a college, but there are steps you can take to find a good fit.”

                                                                                                                                                                          - College Board

 

When compiling your college list, there are multiple factors that you have to take into consideration. The priority of each factor differs from applicant to applicant. Of course, you don't want to apply to 30 universities, mainly because that takes so much time and effort, but you also don't want to apply to only 2-3 (because that is not enough). A general rule of thumb is that you apply to 2-3 Safety schools, 3-4 Target schools, and 2-4 Reach schools (of course, you can apply to more or less if you want to).

 

  • Safety Schools: schools with high acceptance rates that you feel confident enough that you will get admitted to.

 

  • Target Schools: schools with lower acceptance rates that you have a good chance of getting admitted into (your scores lie in their admitted student’s average), but it can still go either way.

 

  • Reach Schools: schools with low acceptance rates that are hard to get into, regardless of your scores.

 

Of course, there is no set list that says what schools are in each category; one person’s safe school can be another’s target, and vise versa. You should know what are your safety and raeches from your scores, and your application (how good you think your essays are, and how big your achivements were). 

So back to the factors we talked about earlier. These factors include, but are not limited to:-

 

  • Ranking: both with regards to your intended major/school, and the university as a whole.

 

  • Emphasis on Overall Education: this means that you might want schools that give you a well rounded education, not just in your field. You never know if you decide to major in something else. Please look up the concept of liberal art colleges for a better understanding. 

 

  • 4-Year graduation rate: some schools might be very good and highly ranked, but students might have a hard time attending some of these schools.

 

  • Student Culture: Seeing if you can actually fit in the culture of that school.

 

  • School Size: small campuses vs. large ones; student-to-faculty ratio; number of students per class; etc.

 

  • Public vs. Private: usually the differences between public and private schools are uniform, but there might even be differences between private schools or between public schools that depend on location or how old the school is.

 

  • Location and Weather: this can be a deciding factor when you're choosing between a couple of schools that seem similar to you, or for health/other personal issues. A lot of people think that they can tolerate certain types of weathers, but they don't when they actually get there.

 

  • Student Organizations: in other words, if you have the opportunity to practice your hobbies with other people, or have the opportunity to explore other interests and hobbies.

 

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities: Some schools have very renowned undergraduate research programs, such as MIT and CalTech. Others have substantial opportunities for certain research areas, such as Yale with its 1:1 engineering Student to Faculty ratio.