Narrowing Your List of Colleges
Once you have your lsrge list of possible colleges, it’s time to narrow the list to a handful of schools.
A caveat: If you’re independently wealthy and have a lot of time on your hands you are more than welcome to spend the money on application fees and the time on applications for as many colleges as you choose.
For the vast majority of college-bound students, this step involves sorting through the list of schools you’ve developed to bring it down to some manageable number — perhaps anywhere from five to ten schools.
One of the most common methods for students to reduce the list of colleges is to place all the schools on your list into three categories — reach schools, realistic schools, and safety schools.
Reach schools are ones where your qualifications fall below their standards, but your unique characteristics give you hope of acceptance. Realistic schools are colleges whose typical student profile matches your qualifications. Safety schools are ones for which you greatly exceed their qualifications and are practically guaranteed admission.
Once you have divided your list of college into these three groupings, choose your top two or three schools from each category, with perhaps a few more in the realistic group than the other two.
Need help with any of the terms described on this page? If so, find the answers in our High School College-Bound and College Planning Glossary.
Return to the main page of the College Planning Tutorial.
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