- Create a balanced list. Choose a few schools that are “reaches,” or schools that are more selective, a few that are matches (your scores/GPA/extracurriculars line up with the website’s stated averages) and a couple safeties (schools that are reliable financial and academic bets). In order to curate a list this specific, start with a much larger list and begin to narrow. Hughes College Prep advisors create comprehensive lists for our students based on financial/academic/personal needs and desires, and will help you curate your perfect target list by the application season deadlines.
- Discuss with your teachers, mentors and parents what you’re looking for in a school. Talking about what you like and are looking forward to in a school, and what you might want to avoid altogether, can be a productive way to make a pro/con list and make sure your schools match your expectations.
- Figure out the financial possibilities ahead of time. Many schools have financial aid calculators that your parents can input their estimated tax information in, and can give you a fairly good idea of what kind of need-based aid the institution might award you. Often schools also list minimum requirements for merit scholarships. Check out what the average award package for someone in your circumstances looks like, and see if it matches up to your financial parameters. Having a couple of financial safeties is key to minimizing stress when application season is over– then you know you have some solid options in the fall no matter what other institutions offer.
- Visit when you can. Sometimes exploring a campus and classes in person can make or break your decision to apply there. You might be surprised that a school that you crossed off your list based off a friend’s negative review could be your dream school when you step foot in the art or engineering building. Even if you live near a campus, visiting it during a school day, or sleeping overnight in the dorms, can give you a whole different perspective on a familiar place.
- Don’t always follow the crowd. Your friends might be an influence on where you apply, or don’t apply, to school, but a school that’s a great fit for them might be all wrong for you. Don’t feel pressured to apply to schools that are more selective just for selectivity’s sake. Create a list that forges your own path forward in the fall.
Still stressed? Contact Hughes College Prep for comprehensive college list making and application assistance.