When parents call us with questions about their child’s college application process, they usually have a handful of reach schools on their list – or sometimes more than a handful. They usually search for “the best” colleges, or “the top” programs their child is interested in pursuing.
But the best way to create a college list is to turn inward, and figure out what would make the best college experience for your child. What opportunities does s/he want? What will position him/her for success after graduation? What will make the experience fun, memorable, and valuable? Is it research, close collaboration with peers, or significant faculty attention? Is it tons of classes and activities, school spirit and an active Greek system? Is it close to home or far away? It is near a city or more remote?
If you truly ask these questions, you’ll find that there are schools you really wouldn’t see on the same list. Unless what you’re focused on is ranking. We advise against this (here’s more on that) because rankings don’t really measure the quality of the educational experience, and they REALLY don’t tell you which colleges are a good FIT for your child. And that’s what we’re looking for – fit.
Most parents are also concerned about the cost of college – and it’s a valid concern. Most people assume – incorrectly – that an in-state public university will be the best value. That’s not always true, and in fact, we have former clients who are now getting a private college education out of state for less than they would have paid for their home state public university cost. How is this possible?
The magic is in the list, we always say.
With the right list, your child should end up with more acceptances than rejections, and scholarship offers that will bring down the cost more than any of the major private scholarships you’ve heard of – $20k, $30k, sometimes $40k below the college’s “sticker” price, renewable for all four years.
The magic is in the list.
Given our current quarantine situation, now is the perfect time for your child to do his/her research. Do the research! We promise it will pay you back in the end. Here are some resources to help you along this path:
Here’s our checklist to track what you learn when you do this research:
Virtual College Checklist
We’re in an evolving world now, but this part of the process hasn’t changed – it’s all about fit. Find those colleges where you’ll be a strong contributor to their campus community and articulate that in your essays. Balance your list and include not just “reach” and “target/match” schools, but also a few more likely.
We hope this helps. We know this process can be intimidating. Check out our YouTube channel and our blog for tons more information and guidance. If you feel you’d like a little extra support through the process, that’s what we’re here for, so feel free to get in touch.