Curating Your College List

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Preparing For College: Curate Your College List


Sometimes students have a dream school that is at the top of their list. Other times, students see their college list as a blank canvas, waiting for the right parts to form a masterpiece. At College Ready, we believe that students should have a balanced college list of schools that includes a good mix of reach, target, and safety schools. (You can read more about building your college list here.)

Because it is the beginning of the school year, many students are deep into classes at colleges. We are working with freshmen, sophomores, and juniors on keeping their courses rigorous, their grades strong, and their extracurricular activities fulfilling. We are also working with seniors who are finalizing details for their college applications and curating their final college lists. We are even hearing from freshmen in college who are just starting their days on campus. All of these things have inspired us to dig a little deeper into forming that final college list for application season. Read on to learn more about preparing for college and curating your college list.

The importance of the college visit. While junior year is an ideal time for families to head to college campuses, there is never really a bad time for you or your family to take a little side trip to see a school. Do you have an 8th grader who is studying American history and traveling to Washington DC? Why not spend a few hours touring Georgetown, American University, George Washington, or any of the institutions of higher education in the DC area that interest you? Are you a Southern California local? Go to a fall football game at USC or UCLA so you can see if you really want the City of Los Angeles to be your college campus. Are you a beach lover? Perhaps Loyola Marymount, University of San Diego, or Point Loma Nazarene are more your cup of tea. No matter where you’re going to visit, walking on campus as though you are a student is one of the most valuable things you can do as far as finding the right fit goes. If your list has been narrowed down to 10 or 12 schools, make it a goal to visit most of them so you’re ready to commit when the time comes.

Ask around. Just visiting a school might not be enough. Luckily, today there are so many resources to explore campuses and learn about campus life. Visit the social media pages of schools, their organizations, and sports teams to learn more about daily life on campus. This kind of internet research can help you to determine whether the school culture is something that you will like. Additionally, you can reach out to students who attend the college to ask the real questions about life on campus. Campus tour guides or other school representatives are often helpful with providing this information.

Size matters. You don’t want to get lost on campus… or do you? Some students prefer a giant student population. Others might want to be a big fish in a small pond. The great news is that there is a good fit school for everyone. Check the size and decide whether you’ll want a 20,000+ population or a smaller crowd of college classmates. This question helps to put things in perspective: Do you want to sit in a lecture hall with hundreds of people, or would you rather gather at a roundtable discussion with a professor? Depending on your personal preference, size truly does matter.

Scholarships can help. Not sure if you’ve heard this yet, but Ivy League schools do not offer scholarships based on merit. However, many other schools do! At College Ready, we love the Ivies, but we also love schools that fit a student perfectly. To us, a perfect fit includes a financial fit as well. Knowing that some spectacular schools offer great merit scholarships might help in the curation of your college list. Listed below are some College Ready students’ schools and scholarships. Check out the variety in geography, size, and overall culture of these great schools:

  • Rice University: This private research university in Houston offered one of our students a Distinguished scholar award of $25,000.
  • The University of Connecticut: This large public school on the East Coast awarded one College Ready student $23,000 for academic excellence.
  • The University of Colorado Boulder: This public research university gave 2 different College Ready students scholarships of $15,000 each.
  • Boston University: This private research university in the city of Boston offered 2 College Ready students $25,000 each in scholarship money.
  • Vanderbilt University: This private research university in Nashville awarded one College Ready student $54,838.
  • Fordham University: Fordham, a private, top-ranked NYC school gave one College Ready student $97,000.

From San Diego State to Clemson University, from Caltech to Cornell—College Ready has been helping students to land at the very best schools for them.

Are you looking for help with your college search and application process? College Ready is ready to serve you with experienced consultants. Reach out to schedule a free discovery call and learn more!

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