For high school seniors, applying to college can feel like an entirely new experience. It requires students to think critically about who they are and where they’re headed, perhaps for the first time in their life. Until then, going to college might be a very abstract idea, and students may be making decisions based on very little actual research.
As a College Coach with College Summit, I always ask Peer Leaders and other students I work with to share their college lists before I make other suggestions. I want to hear their reasons for thinking about each of the colleges. Typically, they say “It’s close to home”; “My friends are applying there”; “It has a high ranking”; or “I can’t afford anywhere else.” I reply, “Think of the college’s point of view. Why should they take you? How will you contribute to the campus? Are you going to be a typical student for them?” As you begin to think more specifically, your list will become more specific to your needs. Most of my students have realized that there may be a range of colleges they can afford, and that there may well be opportunities beyond what they have dreamed of. If students understand the process, they can embark on applications with confidence!