On the Eve of Labor Day Weekend…
August 31, 2012
Early Decision
September 22, 2012

Creating a College List

Last week, I asked readers to reflect on how their summer experiences informed their identity, interests, ideas, and aspirations.  Now, let’s turn to the 5I’s’ counterpart, the 4C’s, and think about how the latter framework informs college lists.  For seniors, creating a college list is important part of the early fall and an integral part of the overall college admission process.  This week, think about how culture, curriculum, community, and conclusions will factor into your four-year college experience.

• Culture:  Investigate each school’s history, stated mission, and time-honored traditions.  How do these variables resonate with your aspirations?
• Curriculum:  Think about academic fit.  What do you hope to study and are these disciplines available to you at the colleges on your list?  If you change your mind about your academic path, will you be able to explore other disciplines?
• Community:  Will student life accommodate your interests and passions?  Will the students and activities on each campus challenge you to think outside the box?  Can the campus space and larger community be a home to you as community rarely ends at the edge of campus?
• Conclusions (or outcomes):   What are alumni doing now?  Are they making a positive difference in the world?  Are they finding careers in industries that might interest you?

To narrow down the number of schools on your college list (according to College Board’s website there are 3,996 options nationwide), determine whether an institution’s culture, curriculum, community, and conclusions inspire you take the next steps–further research, perhaps planning a visit, and eventually starting the school-specific application process.

A few more general guidelines:
– Stay organized by storing your list in an excel or word document.  Be reasonable in the number of institutions you feature on your list.  Note any requirements an institution might have to apply.  Keep deadlines in mind.
– Be cognizant of each school’s academic expectations.  In the current competitive college admissions environment, it is a good idea to be excited about both “safety” and “reach” school.
–  Financial aid is an important consideration.  Many institutions have comprehensive financial aid policies.  I encourage you to take time to learn about the financial aid packages of the schools on your list.

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