I have found both students and parents wondering how to make the distinction between each category leaving me to conclude that this one issue, is often the largest obstacle when facing down the colleges search process.
I have met with student after student assuring them that, the completion of the application is actually easy. The essay is time consuming but also, not very difficult. I have heard fears expressed that the entire search and application process is just too overwhelming. My suggestion is to keep the application and essay to one side. For a junior, their job is to make "the list" because "the list" is the overwhelming part.
How do I find schools to apply to? How do I know if I would be a good candidate? How do I select target schools? There are over 3,500 institutions of higher education across the country.
Asking a person that is struggling with soccer practice, a social life and their academics all while trying to design a college list is honestly, asking a lot. Students need to work with both parents and guidance counselors (as well as their independent counselors!) when searching out those schools best suited for them.
To begin, sign onto www.collegeview.com (if your high school uses Naviance, it is listed in Naviance if not, use link for direction). This free service will ask questions about likes, dislikes, size of school one is looking for, environment preferred, activities, etc. These questions require great thought, adding to that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Keep in mind during this process that STUDENTS CAN ALWAYS CHANGE THEIR MIND- nothing is written in stone. Decisions regarding which schools to apply to generally fall out naturally through the process of research. Remember that research goes beyond academics. One must determine if they would feel comfortable on the various campuses. In determining a level of comfort, the list will again, get shorter and shorter.
From the responses, collegeview will generate a comprehensive list of schools. Part of the questionnaire asks about GPA and SAT/ACT scores. The resulting list, will give a percentage for each school. For example, Gettysburg College is on the list, next to the name is the # 97%. That 97% means that Gettysburg, matches responses by 97%. A student fits into what this college is looking for and, the college offers what they are looking for, by 97%. It is a wonderful program that is much more individualized than many others. With the list collegeview generated, one can begin to research schools using Naviance (if your HS uses Naviance) or, www.collegedata.com if they do not. Each website offers information on what schools are looking for in terms of a GPA as well as SAT/ACT scores.
By using this information, students are able to learn if a school belongs under the category of: safety, target or reach. Another resource for helping choose safety, target, and reach schools can be found on PrincetonReview.com.