Building your college list

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which colleges you want to apply to.

Here are some things to think about as you make that decision:

  • Size of college
    • How large do you want your classes to be?
    • What resources are important to you to have in a college?
    • Do you mind if TAs teach your classes instead of professors?
  • Location
    • Do you want to stay in-state? Go out of state?
    • How far from home do you want to go?
    • If you do want to go away from home, be sure to take into consideration how much it will cost you to go home. How far is campus from an airport/train station/bus station? How long would it take if you didn’t have a car?
  • Public vs. private
  • 2 year vs. 4 year
  • How much will it cost (total) to attend? What can you/your family realistically afford? How many loans are you/your family comfortable taking out?
  • Majors offered? Possible major? Career options?
    • If you are applying to a school for a certain program, make sure you REALLY want to do that; otherwise, if you switch majors, you’ll be stuck
  • HBCU? Women’s college?
  • Be realistic:
    • For the top, most highly competitive schools, you probably need a 3.5+ GPA and 1000 SAT
      • This is even more important for STEM fields (3.5+ GPA, 1100 SAT)
    • This is not to discourage you! You can still get into a great school — just be realistic!

Other tips:

  • If you can, visit the college!
    • The only real way to see how the campus feels is to visit it – you might be surprised how different it can be to see a campus online vs. actually be there in person
  • Talk to current students/alumni at colleges you’re interested in to get the real scoop on what that college is like
    • Contact us if you’re interested – we have Yleana alums at a wide range of colleges all across the country
  • Make sure you’re applying to a range of colleges – some reaches, some matches, and some safeties
  • Make sure you’re applying to colleges that meet financial need

⇒Start here with Yleana’s curated lists of colleges and programs⇐

Other resources:

  • College Board’s Big Future College Search
    • You can input characteristics and it will output a list of colleges matching those characteristics
    • Can also find the percentage of need met at each school
  • College Scorecard
    • Shows graduation rate, median salary for students 10 years after college graduation – look up schools you’re considering
  • College Simply
    • Search for schools by SAT score or GPA
    • Tells you how likely you are to be accepted
  • College Greenlight
    • Lists of fly-in programs, other features
    • Similar to Big Future
  • College Confidential
    • Get a feel of the school
  • Niche
    • Grades certain aspects of a school (campus safety, location, food)
    • Can search by your SAT score
  • Cappex
    • Will provide a graph showing you where you fit compared to other applicants who were rejected or accepted based on your GPA and SAT scores
    • Can search any existing school in the US
    • Will recommend schools to you
  • ScholarMatcher
    • This is an interactive online college search tool. You can browse the list or take a quiz to help narrow down a list of colleges that might be a good fit for you
    • All the colleges on this list are specifically chosen because they support students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year

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