Wednesday’s Parent: 5 fantastic tips to refine a college list Part 2

Finalizing a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Finalizing a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

The hard part of forming a college list is whittling it down to those schools that offer a student the best chance for success. Last week had tips about information gathering to jump start the process in 2 phases, 3 points for forming a college list.

Here is Part 2 with five tips for analyzing and refining the choices.

!. Define the student’s definition of success The definition of student success varies with each student. Wednesday’s Parent: Hunting and gathering a college list Part 2 explained this and gave five ways parents may help their child find their college matches.

2. Judge the college. How good a job a will the school do to help a student achieve his vision? Use the parent-student team approach to have frank discussions about college, career and future lifestyle goals. Write them down. Go back to the college list and eliminate those that are least likely to help the student attain her dreams.

3. Take a closer look. Go over the list again twice. The first time think emotionally. How did the campus make the student feel from the college visit? Sometimes it’s an unexplainable positive or negative gut reaction. The second time think logically about the school’s academic and extracurricular offerings. If there is a wide divide between the two impressions, it’s probably not a good choice. Students have to be vested in their college attendance for best chance of thriving.

4. Get selfish. Though they may be considered part of fact gathering, brand names, recommendations and what others are doing do not determine the final college list. The focus is on what will work best for a particular student based on his talents, skills, goals and qualifications. Colleges use the admission process to find students they want. Students should use the process to find schools that will help the student get what he wants.

5. Put in the time. The more time spent on making a good college list, the better the chance for student success. Find the places where the student is most likely to get a great education that:

  • Fits her abilities and stretches her opportunities
  • Provides the tools to graduate (or go on to grad school) on time
  • Prepares him for a future with manageable debt and the ability to be self-supporting at the life-style desired

Read Suzanne’s post: Making the Illogical Logical-The Final College List


Suzanne and I will share more insights into making a great college list on Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, July 23, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk about the many factors to consider, how to finalize the list and the parent role in the process. Join us and bring your questions and comments.

UPDATE: If you missed the chat or participated and want to review the great information and links shared, check out the recap.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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