College Planning

Balancing Your College Planning Checklist

One of the most important things that rising seniors can do over the summer is to balance their college lists. Many students apply to a lot of colleges just to make sure they have options. But even if you have a good chance of admission at 20 schools, applying to this many is not the best strategy!

A general rule of thumb is to apply to 8 to 12 schools: 1-2 reach schools, 1-2 foundation schools (or safety schools) and the remainder should be target fit colleges. A good place to start testing the balance of your list is to consider the following:

  • Do you love every school on your list? Students should be happy applying to each and every school they are considering. If you don’t love a school, please do not apply!
  • Can you thoroughly answer the question, “Why are you applying to this school?”
  • Do you have at least one foundation school?
  • Do you have at least 2 or 3 schools on your list where you would likely receive merit and/or need-based aid? This means that the college is one to which you are likely to be admitted and that your family can afford even without significant financial aid.
  • Has your high school counselor reviewed and given you feedback on your list?

If you can say yes to each of those questions, you’re on your way to a balanced list! If you answered no, please consider reviewing your list with your college counselor.