Everything you need to know to properly develop a strategic list of schools to maximize your chances of being happy with the end result
Approaching the college application process can understandably feel overwhelming. With so many schools to discover, determining where to begin can feel like a greater challenge than actually getting into the school of your dreams. When you consider that you also need to place equal importance on safety schools as you do reach schools, the entire process can feel more like a chore. However, learning about new schools and where you want to spend your undergraduate years should be an exciting, rewarding experience. Like many students, it may be your first chance to exercise independence over an important decision-making process. There’s no need to stress though. By adhering to a few simple guidelines, you can create a research process that’s enjoyable and easy to maintain.
Thankfully, a college list is just what it sounds like – a list of colleges and universities that you would like to apply to in Grade 12. However, developing a strategic list requires a lot more effort than meets the eye. Students need to critically reflect on their past performance in high school and what their realistic expectations of admission are. Although strong college lists change over time, especially as students learn more about schools of interest through campus visits and virtual information sessions, they all share the same three basic categories: likely schools, target schools, and reach schools.
At the end of the day, creating a strategic college list is about striking a balance between research, self-reflection, and aspiration. If you consider each of these aspects when developing your list, you will end up with a solid list of schools that fit your needs and ensures you will get into schools that make you happy, regardless of what category they fall into.
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