Creating A Balanced College List

It can be tempting to create a list consisting of only the top ten favorite colleges. But that strategy can backfire. You may end up with a list of colleges that you like but are not necessarily the best fit for you. Liking a school doesn’t automatically make it a good future college.

For example, you may like the idea of attending Harvard, but is it really a good fit for you? Would you thrive or get burned out in that highly competitive environment? More importantly, what are your chances of getting accepted into Harvard?

When creating a college list, it’s important to make sure that it’s balanced. Here’s what we mean by creating a ‘balanced college list’ and how to go about it.

Balanced rocks on a lake

What Is A Balanced College List?

There are several factors you need to consider when creating your college list. One of these is the likelihood of getting accepted. Some colleges are highly competitive. Even if you meet their minimum eligibility requirements, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get accepted. Shortlisting only these colleges can be risky as you’re not 100% sure of getting accepted.

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Match, Safety, & Reach Schools Explained

Colleges can be divided into three categories based on your likelihood of being accepted – Reach, Match, and Safety. A balanced college list features a mix of colleges from all three categories.

Match Schools

A match school is one in which your GPA and standardized test scores are on par with other students who get accepted into the school. You have a high chance of getting accepted into match schools but admission is not guaranteed. To create a balanced college list, you should have at least three to four match schools on your list.

Safety School

A safety school is one in which your GPA and standardized test scores are higher than most students who get accepted into the school. You have the highest chances of getting accepted into safety schools. Admission is almost guaranteed. Include about three to four safety schools to create a balanced college list.

Reach School

A reach school is one in which your GPA and standardized test scores are fall below most students who get accepted into the school. Getting accepted into reach schools is a long shot but it’s not impossible. If a reach school has everything you’re looking for, it’s worth taking a chance. But don’t pin all your hopes of getting accepted. Include two or max three reach schools on your college list. It doesn’t hurt to be ambitious!

Help with Creating A Balanced College List

Not sure how to assess whether or not a college is a good fit for you? This free College Raptor Match tool can help you sort colleges by admission chances, cost, and potential financial aid, and more. Using this tool will make it easier for you to create your balanced college list.

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