Selecting colleges can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be stressful.

Assessing what is important to you is a great way to get started. 

Also, using tools like the College Scorecard can help you compare colleges

using factors such as average annual cost, graduation rate and even the

average salary of graduates. 

Your final list should be a collection of 6-8 colleges and/or universities that

address all of the characteristics you are looking for in a school and that fit

into the below three categories. 

Remember, start broad then work on refining your college so that you have

a few schools in each category. 


Most students have little difficulty identifying reach schools that they believe to be perfect matches for their needs. At a reach school, your credentials may not be as strong as those of students previously admitted or the school has a low acceptance rate making it hard for any student to be accepted.


Your credentials for admission are truly competitive and you are qualified for admission. This is a school where you have at least a 50/50 chance of admission.


These are schools where your credentials are very competitive and it is highly likely that you will be admitted. It is extremely important for students to find several “likely” schools where they truly believe they can be happy and productive.

Whatever criteria you decide to use in your school selection process, you should always apply to one school where you know you will be accepted and you know you can afford to attend. 

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                      Refining Your College List

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