How to Create Your College List?

January 28, 2019

Did you know there are 2,000+ four-year colleges and universities in the US? It’s not realistic to know them all, much less what makes each one distinctive.

How are Miami University and the University of Miami similar to one another… or more importantly, wildly different from one another? And then, who can keep straight that the Universities of Pennsylvania, Southern California and Richmond are private, while the Universities of Pittsburgh, Texas and Louisville are public?

Taking this another step, why does it make so much sense to consider Davidson and Denison if you already know you like Dickinson? Unlike the two Miamis, these three colleges’ similarities go way beyond their names. They’re all exceptional liberal arts colleges in quaint suburban communities with about 2,000 undergraduates.

So, how can you develop and refine your skills in identifying the similarities between colleges?

It’s important to identify colleges linked by attributes that are important to you. Along with shared attributes, the hallmark of a thoughtful college application list is a set of similar colleges grouped into categories related to cost and likelihood for admission.

Our College Fit Worksheet can help you start to recognize what type of college might suit you and to identify important similarities between colleges.  Using this Worksheet, therefore, is a strong step toward starting your college search or pushing it to a higher level.

So, how can you use the College Fit Worksheet?

1. Take the time to answer each question. While doing this, prioritize answering the questions with total authenticity.

2. Accept that your college search is “fluid.” Your responses may evolve as your search takes shape.

3. Commit yourself to the goal of finding a college where you will thrive.

4. Take stock of your results.

5. Search for colleges that share the attributes you deem important and learn as you search. 

What do I mean by “learn as you search?”  If, for instance, you find yourself excited about Kansas University, point your attention to the Universities of Missouri and Illinois. If Middlebury strikes a chord with you, search tools like Niche will help you see how it resembles Bowdoin.  Said another way, keep a pulse on what draws you into considering different colleges and – then – go searching for other colleges with those traits. Ask yourself, “who are the peer institutions for my top choice college?”

As you explore, you should be mindful of the colleges’ academic profiles. Follow this link to create your Find The Right College membership and learn more about evaluating whether you’re competitive for admission to certain colleges.

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