Top 5 Ways to Narrow Down Your College
Okay, so you have a list of 15 schools that you love for 1,500 different reasons. But it’s summer now and you want to narrow down your list. So how do you do it? How do you turn a list of 15 schools into a list of 5. I am here to help.
1. Mind the Three L’s!
In the real estate business, the Three L’s are Location, Location, and Location! It matters in your
college search just as much. You need to really think about how far you want to be from home.
If you live in Massachusetts and the thought of another winter makes your stomach churn, you
can probably remove Tufts from your list. Conversely, a Floridian student who gets homesick at a
sleepover shouldn’t be considering UC- Berkeley. Many people don’t think enough about the location
of their school. The big question that any prospective student must ask themselves is “Do I see myself
spending the next 4 years of my life here?” If the answer is no, strike it off the list.
2. While you will gain the Freshman 15, your parents’ wallet will get much lighter.
It’s very easy to forget about the financial aspect of college. Many students will apply to schools they
can’t possibly afford because they think they will be getting tens of thousands of dollars in financial
aid. While financial aid will provide SOME people with SOME of their need, a full-ride scholarship to
your top-choice isn’t very likely. This shouldn’t discourage you from applying, it should only eliminate
the extremely out of range schools. For example, if your parents can only afford $10,000 per year,
Villanova’s $58,244 per year education probably isn’t realistic.
3. You wouldn’t stay at a five-star hotel with 1-star reviews!
The best way to learn about a hotel is to read it’s reviews. It may cost $500 per night, but if 20
reviews say there are mold on the ceilings, the local Marriott may be a better choice. Colleges are no
different. A school’s most accurate reviewers are it’s students. Go to college review websites (there
are more than enough!), and read what students have to say. If you love parties and most students
say their school is boring and stuck-up, it shouldn’t be on your list. If your mother has been giving
you home cooked meals for your whole life, you won’t want to pay upwards of $5,000 per year for food
that students generally call a half step above inedible.
4. McDonald’s OR Burger King, not McDonald’s AND Burger King
While every school is different, some are very similar. Your college list should be diverse. Have both
public and private, cheap and expensive, very selective, and not very selective. If you have a 4.0 GPA
and are applying to 5 Ivies, you should still have a fallback. Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to
plan, you are planning to fail!”
5. Oh yeah, My Major!
While not everyone declares a major upon entering college, most people have a general idea of what
their interests are. Of course, you should take the MyMajors quiz which is excellent for zeroing in on
a list of potential majors. Research how popular a major is at a school. If you love a school, but your
major is only declared by a handful of other students, it may be hard for you to relate with your peers.
Find schools that specialize in your major and have internship opportunities.
Hopefully this list has helped you to narrow down your list. The most important thing to remember in
the college search process is to stay calm and don’t get stressed out.