How to Finalize Your College Application Checklist

Clemson campus - work on your college application checklist

Flickr user Ken Lund

You have a list of colleges you’re interested in, but which do you apply to? You may have a list of 20 schools, but that doesn’t mean you should apply to all 20. Instead, you want to take time time to finalize your list. Here are some tips for ticking off your college application checklist.

Visit the Colleges

One of the most important parts of finding the right schools for you is to visit them. Almost all schools look perfect on paper (or on their website). They’re trying to get you to attend! But not all schools are right for all students.

Visiting a college or university can give you a lot of insight into whether or not the school is a good choice for you. You can meet current students, alumni, faculty, and professors and ask them questions. You have time to visit the dining hall, see the town, take a look at the dorms, and more. You want to get a general feel for a college during your visit. Some students find your dream school is no longer that after a trip. Or they may be pleasantly surprised by another college that wasn’t high on their list.

Absolutely take your visit into account when determining your final college application lists. Which ones made good impressions?

Have Enough Colleges To Apply To

While there is no magic number for college applications, you do want to be sure you’re applying to enough schools that fit your needs. You generally want safety schools (colleges in case you don’t get into your others), good matches, and reaches (ones you probably won’t get into, but it would be awesome if you did).

While you may have your heart set on your dream school, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. You need to have a backup plan, so be sure you’re applying to enough colleges that you have options in case something doesn’t work out.

Ask Yourself “Are They Right For Me?”

When finalizing your list of colleges you want to apply to, you should definitely ask yourself, “Are they right for me?” Some schools, while great, may be on your list for the wrong reason. You might have a college that’s on the list simply because of the prestige of attending. Or one that is only on there because your current boyfriend or girlfriend is applying to it. Or your parents may be pushing you to apply to a specific school that they want you to attend, that may not be the best for you.

You want to be sure the colleges and universities you’re applying to fit your education and career goals as well as your personality and needs. Carefully look at your list and think about whether or not they’re a good fit for you.

Your College Application Checklist

It can be stressful trying to determine which colleges to apply to. After all, you are going to be spending the next four years there. You absolutely want to take time to curate your college app list. Give each one careful thought, weigh the pros and the cons, and then start applying!

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

Hilary Cairns

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