Building Your College List

If you’re applying to college, you know there are a lot of options! It can be overwhelming to narrow down what you’re looking for in a college experience. Building a list of top colleges takes time, research, and patience.

The first thing you should remember is this is YOUR education and YOUR choice. As you begin to build your college list, consider the following suggestions.

Use your numbers to build your list.

Use your GPA and test scores to help you narrow down your college list. Some schools list their minimum grade/test requirements, while others give you a range. If you’re interested in a specific school, see if your numbers fit within the school’s unique criteria. If your numbers don’t match up, it’s probably not the school for you. Remember, your list can include one or two “reach” schools or ones where your numbers fall below the school’s range. But don’t forget to include “target” and “safety schools,” or ones you know you’ll have a higher chance of getting accepted.

Weigh your priorities.

Make a list of what you’re looking for in a college experience. What’s important to you? Location? Social scene? If you’re interested in a specific program, look for colleges that specialize in that program. If you don’t know what profession interests you, that’s OK! There are college programs that help you discover your interests. Once you make your list, number your priorities. Pick schools that have the top 3-5 things on your list.

Know yourself and your situation

Self-exploration and self-reflection are critical to knowing your unique personal situation. Start by owning your personal ambitions and build a roadmap for how to get there. What interests you? Which subject inspires you? What problem in the world do you want to help solve? If you don’t know what profession interests you, that is okay! There are college programs set up to help you explore that. Clarifying your career goals and interests will help you select schools that can support you the way you need.

Identify your support circle.

Don’t do this alone! Look around. People are cheering you on and ready to see you win. Look to your family, friends, coaches, teachers, counselors, and peers for guidance, motivation, wisdom, and advice! But remember, this is your journey. A strong support system will serve as a sounding board as you unpack your priorities, make decisions, and plan for life after high school.

Take some time to reflect on where you are right now. What are your priorities, and where is your support? Use the Encourage app for even more support as you navigate high school, college, and a career. We can’t wait to help you reach your goals.