*POCSmom’s Insight: A Successful College List-The Strategy (Part 2 of 3)

Cliché: Choose wisely.  
POCS Reality: A successful college list is the foundation of the college process.     

  College Admission Requirements, Student Qualifications, and the Affordability Factor

Is the foundation to your home crumbling? If it is, you better fix it or move on. The same is true for a college list.

A college list is the foundation of the entire college process because the student will likely attend one of the schools on his list. If the schools listed are not the best ones for student success, your college process is on shaky footings, and you’re in danger of academic and financial failure. Here’s how to fix it and move forward on the path to college success.

College List Review

Go over your college list to make sure all schools are your college PALs containing the Programs, Activities, and Location for a best college fit. (See A Successful College List: The Plan (Part 1 of 3): Finding Your College PAL)

College Admission Requirements and Student Qualifications

Then group the schools into categories according to college admission requirements and student qualifications:

  • Safety schools: student qualifications exceed college admission requirements (best chance of admission)
  • Target/Match schools: student qualifications match college admission requirements (student has what college says they want)
  • Reach schools: student qualifications do not quite reach college admission requirements (although not having all required credentials, student really wants to attend)

A successful college list contains 2-3 colleges in each category.

Affordability Factor

Make sure each category has colleges the family can afford either with or without financial aid. Check the school’s record of meeting student financial need. This is not a personal guarantee but it will help you plan. Also check which financial aid forms are required and submit before deadlines. Note which colleges review financial aid forms before awarding merit aid (aid not based on financial need but based on student talent-academic, athletic, artistic, musical, leadership abilities) and which admit without considering financial need.

POCSmom’s Insight:

Decide where to attend after comparing financial aid awards from schools offering admission. Do not plan to borrow to pay for college without first figuring out how much you can afford to finance. Loans have borrowing costs such as origination fees and interest charges. College should help not hinder your financial future.

Stay tuned for A Successful College List Part: The Choice (Part 3 of 3): Choosing Your Right Fit College

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

4 thoughts on “*POCSmom’s Insight: A Successful College List-The Strategy (Part 2 of 3)

  1. This is hard for a guidance counselor to believe, but I don’t have my students select “reach” schools. These are unreachable schools, so I don’t encourage my students to place them on their list.

  2. I’m not a guidance counselor but I am a realist and take a student and parent practical-centered approach to the college process. That means I can agree with you, Paul, about not including unreachable colleges that are completely a wrong fit based on student credentials and school admission requirements. However, there is room on the list for the reachable dream school that student credentials almost match. A student can increase his chances for admission by showing how he is a future asset to the college community on his application with an amazing essay, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and community service projects. A student can put his nose in the books to improve academics and demonstrate he can handle a college course load. Bonus POCSmom’s Insight: The earlier a student starts working on his college list, the more time he has to work towards achieving the admission requirements of schools on his college list.

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