The Best Way to Start Your College Search? With a List

By Michaela March 17, 2021 College Search Press

Every year, a new group of students begin to piece together a college list. With so many choices in colleges, from private colleges to state universities, it’s often difficult to know where to start that list. Knowing which schools to add to that list and how to look for them is truly a new skill to be learned.

Building a solid college list sets you up for success from every angle.

Thankfully our latest article on covers every question students face when building a college list: How many colleges to apply for, when should you begin researching schools for your list, what criteria to consider, and how to gauge the correct chance of acceptance.  

Start Your List ASAP

No matter your age, it is never too early to start planning your college list.

The ideal time to develop a college list is during junior year, when you have an idea of the GPA (and early SAT/ACT test scores, hopefully!) you will be working with to help you shape your college list. (Remember, you’ll be applying to every college on your list with the cumulative GPA earned by the end of your junior year.)

Your goal: Have your college list finalized before summer break after your junior year. This leaves your summer wide open for final additions to your college activities resume, like any career-shadowing experiences, and for writing as many college admissions essays before your senior year begins. 

But this list is not iron-clad.

Every year, seniors who get through early decision deadlines decide to re-evaluate their college list in the early spring to add a few more regular decision schools to diversify their options. So the colleges you add to your list now are giving us a solid foundation and college admissions strategy, but they’re not the end-all, be-all.

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