Global College Advisers

Building your College List. Research, Diversify, Revise.

Building a college list is more than just writing down names of notable colleges that you’ve heard of, your friends are considering, or members of your family have attended. 

So, where do you start?

Having some names of colleges ready comes in handy but is only the very start of you thinking about college. However, it can certainly initiate your research of college options.

We at Global College Advisers like to begin the college research process by taking inventory of your passions, academic interests, and extracurricular activities, but also future dreams, goals, and aspirations. We will talk about your personality and try to define social and academic environments that make you feel most comfortable, and in turn, will help you to get the most out of your college experience.

Needless to say, building a college list is a more intense process than just jotting down names on a piece of paper. It’s the exciting process of exploring who you are! Only then can you determine if a certain college represents the right fit for you. 

Diversify your college list.

Don’t get intimidated by big-name colleges or see them as the only valid choice on your college application path. There is a college for everyone! There are over 4000 colleges and universities in the USA not taking into consideration the many options overseas. Each one of them comes with its own unique strengths and character. 

Some students might find a small liberal arts college environment stimulating, while others will thrive at a huge research university, or seek out an all women’s college. Others yet have set their heart on exploring the world and choose to apply to colleges overseas. What’s important, however, is that you have a final college list of about 8-10 schools representing a fine balance of ‘reach’, ‘match’, and ‘safety’ schools. 

college list, bulletin board, stickies,

Here are some tools to get you started:

1 – Getting to know yourself

You can take the traditional pen and paper approach and write a list of ‘must-haves’ or ‘no-way’, asking yourself questions in regards to location, size, academic and social life at your future university. Is Greek life important to you or do you want to be a college athlete? How about the cost of attending college? Will you need financial aid?

You can also go online and do a similar ‘soul search’ by sorting college character cards on Corsava. Using Corsava is free for students. After finishing a card sort you will receive a report with your ‘likes’ and ‘no-ways’ giving you a better idea of what characteristics you are looking for in a college. 

2 – Time to find some colleges to match your interests and ‘likes’

A great and free tool is College Raptor. Their online college matching feature allows you to receive a list of suggested colleges after providing some basic information and indicating your preferences. This makes for a great list to start out your initial research. Big Future offers a similar college search function.

3 – Research your initial list of colleges 

Take your first list of colleges and start researching them. Check out their websites, attend virtual tours, and talk to your school counselor about them. While you are at it you will find out that some colleges will stay on your list while others just don’t match after all. That’s how you narrow down your list.

4 – Go back to the drawing table and refine your list

During your initial college research, you might have realized that some other parameters are important to you and that’s fine. That’s all part of your finding colleges that will make your final list. Go back to researching and finding some other colleges that match your additional preferences.


You might need to repeat steps 3 and 4 a couple of times to get to a college list that you are ultimately happy with. The goal is to end up with a well-researched, personalized list of about 8-10 colleges that are a fit for you academically, socially, and also financially.

At Global College Advisers we support you in building your personalized college list by giving you suggestions, answering questions, and guiding you through the maze of the college application process.

Find out more about what we have to offer with our free 20-minute discovery call.


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