Building a Balanced College List

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Application Process, Juniors, Parents, Seniors, Uncategorized

Building a Balanced College List

Foundation, Target, Reach and Lottery Schools

As juniors are beginning to investigate colleges and make an initial college list, we want to define the different categories potentially included in a balanced college list. A balanced college list should have at least 2 foundation, 2 target and 2 reach schools. Many students will also have a few lottery schools. The typical student applies to between 8-12 schools, depending on the number of UC/CSU schools on his/her list. All of our students begin with a list of at least 20 schools to investigate in an effort to determine personal priorities. By mid summer, students should have a balanced list of 8-12 schools. .

FOUNDATION SCHOOL

  • The college possesses most of the significant features you desire and are important to you.
  • You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework.
  • Your SAT or ACT score is significantly above the average that was accepted last year.
  • Your un-weighted GPA is significantly above the average accepted last year.
  • Your objective academic credentials fall at the top of the college’s admitted class.

TARGET SCHOOL

  • The college possesses most of the significant features you desire and are important to you.
  • You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework.
  • Your SAT I or ACT composite score is at or above the average that was accepted last year.
  • Your un-weighted GPA is above the average accepted last year.
  • You have taken the average number of honors/AP courses.
  • Your objective academic credentials fall in the middle half of the college’s admitted class.
  • Your chances of being accepted are higher than being rejected, but not a guarantee.
  • A college where you should have been accepted last year.

REACH SCHOOL

  • A college that possesses all of the significant features you desire and are important to you.
  • Your SAT I or ACT composite score is at or slightly below the average accepted last year.
  • Your un-weighted GPA is at or slightly below the average accepted last year.
  • You have taken close to the average number of honors/AP courses.
  • Your chances of being rejected are higher than being accepted.

LOTTERY SCHOOL

  • The college possess all of the qualities of a REACH school and
  • The acceptance rate for the college is less than 12%.
  • You may have all of the qualifications for admission, but the extremely competitive nature of the process means that your chances for acceptance are unknown.

Here are places students and parents can begin to gather statistical data to put potential colleges in different categories

  • College Planner Pro student portal (if you do not currently have access, please contact us)
  • College Data  (my favorite)
  • Naviance if you have an account through your school you can look at the scattergrams and data specific to your school to determine your categories)
  • Big Future on Collegeboard-sign in, look at the “am I on track” and fill in information for “how do I stack up?”
  • College Navigator