This is part three of our 4-Part College Match series with Sage Oak School Counselor, Coral Prendergast. Throughout these episodes, Coral shares informative and tactical resources for navigating the process of finding the right college for your student. Part 3 focuses on filtering through the thousands of college options and identifying your top 20 schools.
Topic 1: Creating your Top 20 college list
Topic 2: Narrowing Down Your List
Topic 3: Things to Consider
Topic 4: Considering the Cost of College/Financial Aid & Scholarships
Thank you for listening to the Sage Studio podcast presented by Sage Oak Charter Schools and hosted by Tiffiny Webster, M.A.Ed. We invite you to follow the show and leave your review below. Sage Oak Charter Schools is an independent study nonclassroom based TK-12 personalized learning public charter school serving students in Southern California. Visit sageoak.education for more information.
Sage Oak Website
Welcome back to the Sage Studio. I'm Tiffiny Webster, and today we are talking all about building our college list. So on our previous episode we talked about how do we match our interests and what we're looking for in a school. With all of the different schools that are out there, and Coral, you gave us some really great resources on how to do that and showed us this incredible map about just how many schools there are in the United States that we have to choose from. So now that we have all of these different options, it's time to narrow it down. To 20 schools so that we really have a shorter list that we're working on. So, today that is what Coral is going to be teaching us all about. It's going to be all about building that college list. so we're going to go into building your college list. And this is a list that should happen. Second semester, junior year, kind of narrowing down and looking at, okay, what are, what's my list look like? Where am I thinking I might want to up? Apply because applications happen a lot quicker than people think. They're actually due most of them by November of your senior year. So we start school, end of August, beginning of September, and then it's like before you know it, two months your applications are due. So this really is a process that needs to be happening at least by junior year where you're narrowing things down. So let me stop you right there really quick. So, okay, so you're saying that most applications need to be submitted during the first couple months of your senior year. Is that right? Okay. And so, do all of the schools have the same due date for applications? Like all applications are due October 1st? No. Okay. That would be due easy. So how do we know, how do we know when our application is due for the school or schools? So we want to apply for. So I'm going to talk a little bit about that in the timelines in the next one. But basically, if it's California, if it's Cal States and UCs, they're November 30th. A lot of out-of-state schools have rolling admissions or a later deadline.. But basically you're going to have to look it up on different college websites to research that information and put together a spreadsheet, which I'll have for you, of like college and admissions deadline application deadline, essay deadline, all those kinds of things. And there's different ways to apply. So there's the common app which handles a lot of private schools and out-of-state schools we'll use the common app, which is awesome cuz it's one application and then you just click the different schools you want it go to. Rather than, like Cal State and UC have their own system where it's an independent application. So I'll walk you through all of that in another podcast. But right now we're working on just coming up with an initial list. I'm going to ask you to try and pick like 20 schools, narrow it down, and there might be things about these, you don't like, but like generally speaking, what 20 schools have come up that you're like, oh, that looks kind of cool and I want to research it more. Okay. Okay. And here, All right, so I know we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but I just wanted our listeners to know that is something that they need to be thinking of, and it's kind of why building this initial list is important. Because if you are trying to keep 3000 school deadlines in your head, it's just too much. It's too much to manage, it's too much to think about. It really is best to narrow your focus down. So that you are working, like with a list of 20, and you can really get to know them well, know the ins and outs, what are the expectations, what are the deadlines? All of those things. Otherwise you could, miss a deadline that would be critical. So, okay. I love that. Now we know why it's really important to narrow your college list down and Coral, you're going to help us do that. All right, let's get into it. So you're going to, you can click here and it's just basically a template to type in 20 different colleges. Okay. This is round one. This is they've made the first cut in the draft. Round one basics. Okay? And then what you're going to do is you're going to start narrowing down that list. Do these schools fit who I am when I'm looking at their websites, when I'm researching them, when I'm taking the virtual tools online? Does this look like a place that is going to have what I need? And then the second step Is this a fit I'm looking for in the college? Like we talked about, do they have my major? I can tell you how many kids are like, I'm going to apply to this school. And I'm like, that school does not have the major you want to apply to. That's a big deal, right? Yes. Good point. They don't have what you want to study. So is this school have everything that I'm looking for in a match? And then do I meet the admissions profile? So when I'm looking at this, you'll find on school websites, it will say what their admissions data is. So how many kids applied, how many were accepted and how many actually enrolled. It will tell you. by major a lot of times as well. It will tell you they have a 70% admissions rate, or if you're like UCLA, it's like a eight or 6% admissions rate with over a hundred thousand people applying a year. You know what I mean? Look at your profile that you created for admissions. What's your gpa? All websites on for colleges have an average GPA that they admit with. Those are the kinds of things you're looking for in step three, like am within the range here to apply to this school. And then four is you're narrowing that down, you're weeding some out of that 20 and saying, okay, that's not realistic for me, or, I think I'm going to go with this route instead. Or, this is a good fit. And those kinds of things.. I want to go back and highlight what you just said in step three, because I think that's really important for people to know. Like some of these schools have an 8% admission rate. There is way more applications and interest than they have spots available. And when you are looking at schools with only that tiny admission rate, you're pushing that boulder uphill. It's a really tough thing. However, there are plenty of other schools based on the map Coral showed us in our last episode that would be dying for you to come to their school and they probably really incentivize you to come to their school with maybe some financial aid or other benefits. So that's a really important piece that people should know that they can find out, they can find out what the admission rate is on a school so that you're not stacking all of your schools into a category that is so slim. You, I would imagine Coral, I'm sure you're going to get to this, yeah. There's probably some strategy about having a few different types of schools on your list. Is that right? Absolutely. Yes. And I think that, it's important to my niece actually, she's in Florida. She's a first year freshman at a University of Florida this year, and for her, she was deciding between two universities. She had narrowed it down to two, and one of them had a 90, 92% admissions rate. And that's cool. She actually decided not to go to that one because she said, I don't want them, I want to know that they read my essay. I want to know that. They were like, this is somebody, they selected me and it wasn't just everybody gets in. Oh, I see. That affected her decision. In an opposite. I would be like, sweet. Nice. Yeah, that's was like, good. This one I've got a really good chance of getting into. But you know what? Her point is valid. She was like no. I don't want to go to school where they just let everybody in hey, this is criteria, right? Knowing this about yourself. Yeah, and so I think it is important to look at, if you're looking at, if you have a 3.0 gpa, yes, you can apply to the UCs, but when you start looking at their admissions data and you see that the average G P A the, middle of the road is a 4.1 to a 4.3 or four and you have a 3.0 that's a reach school for you. That's not necessarily, you've got a really good shot. I'm not a dream killer. I'll say apply it anywhere if your family is the financial means to fill out the application, but I think you need to be realistic with yourself and say, this is a reach. Like you talked about, this is something that it's a reach. But I'm still going to go for it. Where there are other schools that you're like, okay, here's the medium gpa. Mine's right in the middle of that. I got a good shot. You definitely want to make sure you have all of those on your list. Sure. For sure. And I, that's a great point. I think the other thing too, When you are talking about this is you have to talk about what is ultimately the dream, right? Because if UCLA is your dream school, well maybe you just have to get creative about your pathway. Maybe going in as a freshman isn't your best option. Maybe your best to go to, Santa Monica College, which we have a relationship with here at Sage Oak, where you can take some of those general education classes for a couple of years and then transfer into UCLA where you will ultimately graduate, and that will be on your diploma, your, bachelor's will be from U C L A. So, you're not a dream killer Coral. You actually are just showing different pathways, right. It just, we have to be open-minded to it. That's it. All different ways to get to where you want to be. Here is the, College fact finder worksheet. So if you're going to click here, it's basically, I created this out of a worksheet I saw in a book for you, and it's going through comparing them all in a spreadsheet. So you go up here, you're going to file, make a copy, and then it's yours. And you're going to write the different names of the colleges across the top and then go through these questions. This is how we narrow this down, right? So, Really considering when you're looking at financial aid too, is it going to cost me to fly home, like Tiffiny was saying, that's an added cost that maybe you're not thinking about. Or is it a tank of gas to get home for the holidays? That's a big difference. How many students are enrolled? Does this have the major that you're interested in? What's a positive thing? A negative thing? Are your admissions chances? High, medium, or low? And I've linked them out there for you, so you don't even have to type. Love it. And then what's the cost? What are your notes? If you're going to give it an A through an F on the grading scale, what would you give it? And really asking yourself those questions to narrow it down and make sure, okay, here's my list. And these are the ones that have the majority. Obviously you're not going to find a school that's 100% has everything that you want. But I would say at this stage in the game, you should be able to narrow it down to get a good chunk of things have the vital things that are important to you. Oh, definitely. And I love this matrix that you've built out for students to use because it is a really great tool. Like you said, it's time to get realistic here. It's time to really look at the factors that matter, put them out here, and then really compare and contrast and look at what are you willing to compromise? What are your non-negotiables in using that data to really drive your decision. So this is so helpful. I love it. And again, , you're going to save that in your Google Drive folder so that you know where to find it. Absolutely. And then last, like really looking at what a reach school is. So your list should be comprised of all these different things, right? It should have reach schools. Reach schools are, you have a low chance of admissions. It's maybe you have a 3.8, 3.9 and you're looking at a school that's over 4.0 for at least everything, but you want to give it a shot and you think you have enough extracurricular? Maybe, so you're saying there's a chance , category it's a dream and you're going to shoot for it. Those are your reach schools. Okay. Your realistic schools are the ones that you have a 50 50 chance. Okay. So these are okay. I'm right in the middle, depending on how impacted their majors are. I've got a good shot, but I still might not get in. And then your safe schools are those you should absolutely be admitted to. So their average gpa, is a 3.0, 3.1, and you have a 3.3 or a 3.4. So they have 90% admissions, different things like that. This is like your safe school. I'm going to do these almost like a backup just to make sure that there are some that you get into that you would be willing to go to. And then there's a template here from the college essay guy who's another really great resource where, you can again file, make a copy, and then make sure you have some in each category, and he has a whole worksheet as well for you to do. Awesome. I love that. And I think this is really important. Okay, so you have to comprise your list of reach schools, realistic schools, and safe schools. And again, this is going to probably include., some schools that you may have never even thought of when you started this process. But by going through all these different steps and figuring out what you're looking for and the schools that are available that have what you're looking for, then you can really put this list together. I think it's a really great tool and a really great way to organize it. And then, you know where you have the best chance of getting into a school that works for you and not just taking any school. There's going to be plenty of schools that will fall into these three categories that are also aligned with what your interests are, what you want to study, and what you want out of college. So, from this point, you really need to then sit down with your family and discuss, it is about $65 to $80 per application. So really looking at, okay, how many schools can I actually apply to? What do what's in our budget financially as a family? That we can afford to apply to. And then narrowing it down okay, I can apply to seven schools, or I can apply to six schools. Or, you want to make sure within those six, maybe you have one reach, maybe you have two safes, and then the rest are realistic. If it's a smaller number, but if you've got. you can apply to 10 15 schools. Okay. I can have a couple of reach schools and just a couple of safe, and most yours will be in the realistic, but really thinking about how much it's going to cost to apply what those essays look like and what you're willing to write for all of those applications and different criteria like that, which I will be doing parent workshops more like summer, beginning of the year. Oh, perfect. I was just going to ask you about that. So I was thinking Coral...We all we're going to need another workshop on that because the application itself is a whole nother animal that does require a lot of time and effort in order for them to get to know you and get to know who you are as a person, who you are as a student, your aspirations, all of those different things. So I'm glad to hear that there's already a future workshop in the works, so that's good to know. We'll have you back for that one for. Okay. Is that the end of this section of your college? Okay, cool. All right, so I'm going to have you stop sharing your screen. Come back to me again. And I I am, I'm learning so much and I know that our parents are and our students are as well. So this has been really helpful. So we just finished part two, no, part three, which was building our college list. Now what do we do? What's the. So now we're going to talk about college visits next. So now that we have our list, we've gotta visit these schools because you've really got, you should be seeing them, in the better months where the weather's better and in the colder months so that you know what that looks like. And I'm going to talk about what questions to ask and what to do in a college visit, when to visit, and all of those kinds of things. Okay? So if you want to know more about next step, which is how to plan for your college visit, stay tuned. We'll have a podcast coming right up.