One of the many services that Brand College Consulting offers to package clients is the creation of a personalized college list. This is typically completed during the Spring semester of the student’s junior year, which ensures that time is available over the summer for essay writing. This can also be done over the summer or during the Fall semester of senior year, for families who are starting the process then.
A well-rounded college list includes schools that fall into these three categories: reach, match, and safety. Having colleges in each category helps ensure students are applying to appropriate schools, helps manage their expectations, and gives the family some back-up options, just in case.
A reach school is one in which the student’s academic profile (class rank and SAT/ACT scores) fall below the school’s range for accepted freshmen students. Some colleges may be reach schools simply because of their low acceptance rate; Harvard University is #1 in the nation and a reach college for every student, regardless of their SAT scores or GPA.
A match school is one in which a student’s academics fall well within the school’s range for the average freshman. There are no guarantees, but it’s not unreasonable to be accepted to several of your match schools.
A safety school is one where your academics are above the school’s range for the average freshman. You can be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools. Safety schools are also the colleges on the student’s list that will probably offer the most financial aid and scholarships. Safety schools should always be ones that the student will want to attend and is within the family’s budget.
Brand College Consulting uses several criteria in selecting colleges for the student’s personalized college list:
- Student’s academic profile-GPA, SAT/ACT scores, class rank
- Student’s intended major- to ensure that the selected colleges offer a degree in that major and has a strong program academically
- Family’s budgetary concerns
- Individual preferences- such as location, distance from home, availability of fraternities/sororities, amenities, campus safety, sports programs, and any other options that are important to the student or family
Creating this college list during the junior year of high school enables Dr. Jolyn Brand and the family to evaluate several things:
- SAT or ACT scores. If a student’s scores are below range for a desired college, the student will still have time to retake the exams at the end of junior year or the beginning of senior year.
- College essays. For students who are applying to 10-12 different colleges, there may be as few as 3 essays and as many as 10 different essay requirements. Getting a head start on essays by beginning them during the summer between junior and senior year relieves much of the senior year stress. This also gives plenty of time for a professional to review all essays and offer guidance and proofreading.
- College visits and trips. Deciding on a college list early means that the student and family have more time to plan and go on college visits and tours. Not only does this help a student narrow down colleges and majors, but it also helps a student with college admissions: many colleges consider a student’s interactions with the college as a positive indicator of interest in the school and are more likely to offer admissions to students who they feel will attend the school.
- College finances. Once a college list has been created, parents can review costs of attendances, their budget and their savings to determine what is feasible. This should not wait until after a
student has been accepted into a school that is financially not possible for the family.
- Scholarships. Students who apply to colleges early (August-October of senior year) have much more time for applying to scholarships. They are also eligible for more scholarship money from each college. Most colleges have early deadlines for scholarship consideration, many times before admissions deadlines.
It also eases the stress of senior year because the student will be completing applications in the early Fall and getting acceptance letters before most other seniors are even done with their essays!
Have further questions about which colleges would be a good fit for your child? Contact us for personalized assistance and guidance!
The Importance of Fit and Creating a Good College List
How to Build a Realistic College List