Importance of a Balanced College List

How to Create A Balanced College List

Having a Balanced College List is important

In today’s competitive landscape, students must be strategic when putting together their college applications. As such, the concept of creating a balanced list of likely, target, and reach schools has become increasingly important in the college application process.

What defines a likely, target, or reach school?

  •  A likely or ‘safety’ school is one where the chance of admission is 80% or higher and in which the student is almost guaranteed admission due to their academic scores and achievements. 
  • A target school is one in which the student has an above-average chance of acceptance and the chance of admissions is between 30% and 80%
  • A reach school is generally one where you have less than a 30% chance of admission. All prestigious schools fall into this category and for sure the Ivy Leagues. A “reach” school is much more challenging to get into due to its more competitive nature.

Limit the number of colleges on your final college list

Initially, you will have a lot of colleges on your list. This is when you go deeper into researching each one of them and categorizing them into likely, target, and reach schools. It will take some time but you should aim for having no more than 10-12 universities on your final college list.

By limiting your college applications to a maximum of ten to twelve schools, you can ensure that your list is well-researched and also balanced by having a good mix of likely, target, and reach schools. 

Each school on your final list should be one that you’d be happy to attend. So, don’t neglect the research on your likely schools. Following this strategy allows you to maximize your chances of success without feeling overwhelmed by having too many applications or having too many reach schools on your list.

A Balanced College List makes applying to colleges less stressful

Having a balanced college list is a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety related to the college application process. By limiting the number of schools to about ten to twelve, you have the opportunity to compare and contrast different college programs and offerings, which can be quite beneficial in deciding which college makes it onto your final list.

When it’s time to apply, you can focus on each application and ensure that it is of the highest quality.



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