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Creating Your College List


By Clairekiren26 Jan 2019

Applying to college was a super exciting time for me, but I know that is not the case for everyone. My biggest piece of advice would be to consider all the factors that a school has to offer and to not only think about college rankings. I absolutely love my school, but I realized that a big thing I never considered was campus life and the clubs and organizations that all the schools had to offer. I would recommend imagining your ideal college experience. Think about what you want to study, if you enjoy meeting new people or having a closer, but smaller group of friends more, if you want a full city experience or more of a tight-knit community, and what kind of academic environment you want to be in as well. If you don’t know what you want to study yet, I would also recommend applying to schools that have a wide variety of your interests. I went into college certain I wanted to become an engineer, but within one month I had changed my major three times, and then fell in love with neuroscience. Here is how I created my college list: The first step I took was narrowing down my interests. I knew I was interested in engineering, computer science and pre-med programs. So, the first thing I did was look up which schools had the best programs in all these fields. I then created a spreadsheet with a long list of all the colleges I thought I may be interested in. I then created columns of other factors that would impact my decisions. I knew I wanted to find a school in a big city that had a closed campus. I did not care as much about class size, but I did not want to go to a super small school. I also made a column for the majors I was interested in. This allowed me to see which schools would allow me to explore and which may have limited me. If a school did not meet enough of these criteria, it got deleted. After narrowing down the list from hundreds of schools to around thirty, I began to consider how these schools were ranked, and their acceptance rates. I googled their average ACT and SAT scores, as well as their average GPAs to see how I compared. This helped me separate some of the schools into reach, target and safety categories. I found around 10 colleges that I absolutely loved and thought I could get into, and after going on college visits, I narrowed my target list down to: Boston College, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, Northeastern, University of Rochester, Tufts, University of Michigan and UC Berkeley My reach school list included Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Yale. My safety school list included SUNY Stony Brook, UPitt, Tulane, Case Western and Emory. My college visits cemented my belief that Johns Hopkins was the place for me, so I ended up applying early decision. I also applied early action to SUNY stony brook and the University of Michigan. I finally ended up at Johns Hopkins. I had gotten accepted into Stony Brook and deferred from Michigan, and then had to withdraw the rest of my applications.