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Creating a College List? Do This First!

There are several key steps that students and their parents take in compiling a list of possible colleges.

Students tend to gravitate towards a “cool” college, while parents are looking for an affordable one.

Making an informed choice is the best way to go about college selection and College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, has shared two very important steps that must not be skipped in the process. Be sure to read Wendy’s newest article and share it with students and their parents who will be embarking upon the journey to finding their best-fit college. 

Following this advice before the process is even started will put students in a favorable position when colleges start looking at who they are and what they represent.


The best way to find reliable information is to go to the source. Parents and students seeking advice about financial aid for college can visit the federal website for the FAFSA. (https://fafsa.ed.gov) The college-bound wanting to check out how well a good on paper college fits them can go on a campus visit. Those starting the college process and trying to form a great college list can start by taking stock of themselves.

Many families begin searching for colleges based on ranking lists, brand names, and recommendations. They are skipping two necessary steps. The first is perfectly phrased by Socrates, the wise philosopher of ancient Greece, “Know Thyself.” The second is based on the web, “Know Your Reputation.”

To accomplish the first step, students can take five for some deep introspection and self-examination.

They can create a resume of accomplishments, talents, skills, interests, and strengths. Students can note needs and wants in terms of areas needing improvement and fields wanting to learn more about. They can begin forming short and long-term goals. The shorter ones are those to achieve during college prep to enhance student qualifications. The longer ones can be measured against colleges to determine the likelihood of helping students achieve them.

Students can move on to the second step by googling themselves. Are they finding embarrassing photos and foul language? It’s not always possible to delete or correct negative content but a concerted effort can be made to create only good content going forward. Students can update privacy settings on social media accounts and portray a cohesive image in line with short and long-term goals.

Start the college search after matching a favorable reputation with attainable goals. The college list will become specific to meet a student’s needs while making him a more attractive candidate for admission to a particular school. More focused and more productive is a win/win for the time-pressed college-bound.

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Creating a College List

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