There are over 5,000 colleges currently in the United States. While this is exciting is some respects, as the possibilities available to you are endless, deciding which one school is best for you can very easily become a daunting and overwhelming endeavor.
High school counselors can be a wonderful source during the college admissions process, as many of them specialize in developing lists for choosing the best college. There are also many private counselors, like our college admissions coaches in Boston at Evolve Tutoring, who can help you develop a list.
But if you are just getting started with the process and want to begin some initial research on your own means, we’ve provided some insights for how to develop a great college list.
Here are the basic steps for how to choose a college:
- Get to know your interests and preferences.
- Discover what specific qualities you want in a college.
- Create an initial list of colleges that match these criteria.
- Research your chances of getting into each of these colleges and organize your school list by “reach,” “maybe,” and “match.”
- Narrow down your results into your final list of colleges.
- Apply away!
Now that you’ve got the basic idea, we’ll address some of the more specific questions our college admissions coaches in Boston receive frequently:
How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?
This certainly varies from student to student, as some students may have their hearts set on one or two primary colleges of choice that they more easily qualify for, while others may have no primary choices or know their true odds of being accepted.
As a general rule of thumb, the following is a good process to follow for applying to colleges to ensure a positive outcome:
- 1 Wild Card (1–10% chance of acceptance)
- 3 Reach – Low Chance of Acceptance (11–25% chance of acceptance)
- 3 Maybe – Medium Chance (26–60% chance of acceptance)
- 3 Match – High Chance (61%+ chance of acceptance)
This leads us to our next question that arises often among high school students in Boston we work with.
How Do I Know My Chance Of Acceptance For A College?
In general, it’s tough to perfectly predict your chances of getting into any university. Even some schools that you feel you are a shoo-in for aren’t always sure bets. Why?
It’s increasingly common for colleges to have institutional goals that they must meet that you have no control over and are tough to predict — ensuring that they admit ‘x’ number of students to certain majors and from diverse backgrounds or geographic areas, such as in-state versus out of state. This is why it’s super important to have a balanced list of colleges in your application queue.
So to find out whether a school falls into the category of a Wild Card, Reach, Maybe, or Match, it can help to look at these three main factors:
- The school’s general acceptance rate
- Average weighted and unweighted GPA for last year’s incoming freshman
- Average SAT/ACT scores for last year’s incoming freshman
We hope that these tips help you as you begin the ongoing process of preparing for college admissions and choosing the schools that are best for you to apply to. Whether you’re a freshman or sophomore in high school or a junior or senior, our college admissions coaches at Evolve Tutoring are here to help you no matter where you’re at in the process. Call us or schedule your free strategy session online today.