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How to Decide Where to Apply to College

Last updated July 26, 2021

After you’ve researched and identified a healthy list of 9-10 colleges you’re interested in applying to, your next step is to begin the actual process of applying. Applying requires making some big decisions about the colleges you’ve identified on your list - you’ll have to pay application fees, fill out entire applications (including essays, your resume, and any supplemental materials). As you get down to the nitty gritty of applying to college, start by taking these steps to help you narrow your list:

Categorize your schools

Categorize the schools you’re applying to into Reach, Safety, and Match by using the data colleges publish on their average admitted student GPA and ACT/SAT test scores and comparing them with your own. This will help determine if the school is a Reach, Safety, or Match school.

  • Reach schools are the ones you dream of going to, but know you’ll have difficulty getting into. The difficulty could be the small acceptance rate, your GPA, or the cost of tuition if you don’t get enough aid; whatever the difficulty is, you know it’ll be a challenge.
  • Safety schools are the schools where you know you’ll be accepted. Your credentials are beyond the minimum requirements for the school. They may not be the colleges in your top five, but these are the schools you can bet will accept you. Safety schools are also likely to grant you larger financial aid packages
  • Match schools are schools that you may or may not get in. Your credentials match the requirements, but it’s still not guaranteed you’ll be accepted. These schools have all the things you are looking for in size and location and you match what they are looking for in a potential student!

Plan your virtual visits

Campuses are closed due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get familiar with what colleges you’re interested in are like. Check out our guide on how to virtual and remote tours work.

Join alumni and current student groups

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok have thriving online communities by current students and alumni. These are welcoming spaces that students interested in attending a certain college can hop on and get real first-hand experienced-based answers.

These four things - categorizing your schools, getting the fee waivers, ‘visiting’ colleges, and listening to online conversations about the colleges that interest you - will all help you narrow your list and know where to apply!

Need some additional help, text “Hello” to 33-55-77 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions! 

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