Why You Need to Add Realistic Choices to Your College List

January is one of the hardest months for high school seniors. Many of them submitted their college applications and now they have more time to think and worry. Some students worry unnecessarily that they won’t have any colleges that admit them. But a small percentage of them will face this reality when admissions decisions are released in the coming months. On rare occasion, this can happen especially to high achieving students who disregard the low admit rates for Ivy League colleges and Ivy-type colleges with similarly competitive admissions standards. To avoid this, I recommend students do the following in the next couple of days:

  • Review the overall admit rate of each college you applied to. Any college with an admit rate lower than 25% is considered a “reach” school for everyone - meaning admission cannot be guaranteed even if the student’s scores and grades match up with the admitted pool of students.
  • If there aren’t any “target” or “safety” colleges on the list, consider applying to one or two other colleges with higher admit rates.
  • Check out the list of colleges with later admissions deadlines or colleges that accept applications late in the process. You can see them on this list published by Money.Com on January 4, 2017.
  • Reach out (only once) in a judicious and thoughtful way to your favorite college on the list. If there is an admissions portal or an email address, you can send a genuine message indicating how much you want to attend their college and the reasons why. If you are competitive in their applicant pool, a heartfelt and moving note like this could make the difference.

"It’s important that students and parents create college lists that have realistic options" TWEET THIS

I don’t like to write about worst case scenarios, but it’s important that students and parents create college lists that have realistic options on them. As much as students want to get into those dream schools, they need to have a Plan B. It’s not too late to round out a college list and submit another application, especially if you are worried.