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How to Decide Where to Apply to College

Last updated July 18, 2024

Once you've built your college list, your next step is to begin the process of applying. We share tips to help you decide where to apply to college!

Categorize your schools

Start by organizing your college list into three categories: Dream, Target, and Match schools.

  • Dream schools are the ones you dream of going to, but are a bit more competitive to get into, due to things like small acceptance rates, minimum GPAs or test scores, or even high costs of tuition.
  • Target schools are schools you feel confident about getting accepted to, even if they’re not necessarily at the very top of your list.
  • Match schools are schools you have a strong chance of getting admitted to. Your test scores, GPA, or coursework typically match those of other incoming students at these schools.

These categories will be different for everyone. You can find out which of your listed schools are a fit by comparing the data colleges publish on their average admitted student GPA and ACT/SAT test scores and comparing them with your own.

Plan your in-person or virtual visits

Visiting a college can help you decide whether to apply. It can give you a better feel for its academics, student life, and things going on around campus. While in-person visits are great, traveling to every college campus on your list might not be possible. However, there are ways to explore a college virtually!

To stay organized during your college visits, use our college tour note sheet. You can jot down notes, questions, or decisions about where you plan to apply. Just click the button below to get started!

Download button - How to Decide Where to Apply to College

Join alumni and current student groups online

Most colleges have thriving online communities on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. These groups, made up of current students and alumni, are welcoming spaces that students interested in attending a certain college can join to get real, experienced-based answers to their most pressing questions.

Talk to your family

If you're unsure about where to apply or what your college goals are, start a conversation with your family. Together, you can discuss your college plans, work through any hesitations members of your family are experiencing, and set expectations or agreements surrounding changing family dynamics. Being on the same page as your loved ones can make choosing where to apply easier! 

Talk to us!

We're here to support you along every step of the way, from researching colleges to making your final decision! Have any questions about deciding where to apply to college? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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