Sending out college applications is both expensive and time-consuming. So you want to make sure that you have narrowed down your college list as much as possible. The only schools you apply to should tick all the boxes on your final choice college checklist.
But how do you cultivate that checklist?
Why It’s Important to Have a Checklist
Any journey needs a map. When assembling furniture, you’ll want to follow the instructions. The point is: it’s nice to have a guide. Creating a checklist for yourself can help focus your college search. And with over 5,000 college options in the US, you’ll definitely want some focus.
A Good ‘Rule of Thumb’ College Checklist
- Offers the academic programs that I am interested in (or alternative options if you haven’t decided on your major yet)
- The total cost of education, including tuition fees, accommodation, meals, college expenses, textbooks, is within my acceptable budget
- Offers the extracurricular activities that I am interested in
- The campus location fits what I am looking for in terms of social life, career opportunities, climate and extracurricular activities outside of college
- The social fabric of the college campus is a good fit for my personality
- The class size is the right fit for my learning style
- I feel excited at the thought of attending this college
How to Create Your Personal College Checklist
Of course, every student is going to have different preferences, situations, goals, and needs. A rule of thumb checklist might not perfectly fit you. So, you’ll have to create one of your own—or at least adapt this one to better fit your own wants.
Brainstorm what things are most important to you. What must a college have in order for you to attend? What don’t you want? Keep in mind, that your checklist can be flexible. You may discover that you don’t care for a smaller, rural campus after a college visit. You can always adjust your checklist and rearrange your college preferences accordingly.
You’ll Need to Prioritize
Of course, not all of the checklist items will carry the same “weight.” For example, you might find that affordability plays a larger role in your decision than the class size. This means you’ll have to prioritize your checklist and give more weight or voting power to the items that matter most to you.
Compare the Schools on Your Final Choice College Checklist
Once you’ve got a checklist in place, it’s time to start comparing schools. College Raptor can help you there. With a free account, you can compare colleges side by side. You can even write notes on each school, track your application process for them, and see which schools are more likely to offer you financial aid money.
Considering you will be spending the next four (or more) years in college, it’s really important that your final college choices tick most of the boxes you set. You’ll save some money too if you don’t send applications to colleges that aren’t really a good fit for you.
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!