How to Start Your College List

Before you begin sending out applications for colleges this year, you should be creating a list of potential schools first. This will help ensure that you’re only applying to schools that are right for you. Do you know how to get started on your college lists?

Four post-it notes stuck to a surface.

Start Early

You should be starting to create your college list in your junior year of high school, if not sooner. This can help ensure that by your fall semester of the senior year, you’re ready to send out applications. Begin by searching college databases like College Raptor, creating matches, and making lists of potential schools. This should also be the time you’re collecting your extracurricular activity information and taking the PSAT and other practice exams.

If you’re heading into your senior year in just a few weeks and you haven’t done any research into potential colleges yet, don’t put it off any longer! Now is the time to start preparing, so you can make sure you have your applications ready to go ahead of the deadline, especially if you are considering applying for Early Decision or Early Action.

Talk to Your High School Guidance Counselor

Talking to your high school guidance counselor can be a great place to start building your college list. They can provide advice and recommendations based on your major, education, and career goals. They may also be able to connect you with people in the potential college.

Also, ask your counselor about colleges that will be attending your high school. Many universities will set up meet-and-greets with plenty of information about their school during your junior and senior years. Make sure to talk to these representatives and learn if their college is right for you. Collecting information is important!

Create Your Profile

Knowing yourself is your first real step into deciding what college is perfect for you. This should include your grades and potential major, but also your other interests from extracurricular activities to the type of environment (city, countryside, or suburb) that excites you. Create a list of your wants, needs, and desires in a school.

By doing this, you can help weed out schools that are less than perfect for your ambitions and personality. This will save you plenty of money on applications as you don’t want to send in information to a college that isn’t right for you. You’ll also be able to save on time as you won’t have to attend open houses to these schools or ensure that your application is perfect.

Creating a list is an essential part of applying for college. Your final choice will most likely be the place you spend the next four years and it will have a profound effect on the rest of your life, future education, and future career. Taking the time to make a list now can save you potential headaches, time, and money. Start off by getting prepared early in your junior year, talking to your guidance counselor, and knowing yourself.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!


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