Create a “Nit-Pick” List to Narrow Down Your College Choices

Flickr user John Lloyd

After you are done exploring all the colleges you may be interested in, it is time to narrow down your college choices and keep that list manageable. Experts advise narrowing the final list to about 8–10 colleges that you will apply to.

All the colleges on your shortlist would have passed the basic criteria with respect to the programs they offer, size of the school and campus location. This list is more nit-picky, to be used to help you look at smaller details that can still affect your overall experience.

These tips will help you narrow down your choices of colleges to apply to:

  1. Check out the non-academic activities and only shortlist colleges that offer the non-academic activities you are interested in.
  2. Look further into the clubs and activities on campus—do they pique your interest?
  3. If you hate the freezing winters, cancel out those colleges that are snow bound for a major part of the year.
  4. Look more closely at the housing and dining options. Do they feel lackluster?
  5. Make a list of the pros and cons of the colleges you are considering so you can compare them using the same criteria.

Compare award letters

After you’ve sent out your applications and if you receive multiple acceptance letters, you may be tempted to accept your first-choice college but before you do that, it is advisable to compare the award letters from all the colleges.

Compromises and sacrifices are expected

Even a dream school will have some drawbacks. It can be helpful to rank criteria in a certain way. What are you willing to give up? What will you trade in? If a school has an amazing marketing program and is an ideal location, but doesn’t have a football team—is that worth it? You’ll have to make a few compromises, but in the end you’ll have the ideal school in mind.

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College Raptor Staff

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