What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Build the Perfect College List

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Ronni Shaw in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.



The first step of the college application process is choosing the colleges you want to apply to. This article will help you create a balanced list. 


Building Your College List


Building your college list is not an exact science, and there is no truly perfect college list. That being said, there are a few concrete guidelines you should stick to.


You should aim to have five to six schools in each difficulty category. The first category is safety schools, or schools that you feel you’ll very likely get into.


Then there are target schools, which are schools that match your GPA, test scores, and other data points. These are colleges that you will probably get into, but with odds at around 50%, they are not quite safety schools.


Lastly, reach schools are more selective than what you might think you can get into based on your data points. Since you are almost guaranteed to get into at least one safety or match school, you should definitely take advantage of your safety net and apply to a few reaches.


Besides looking at selectivity, you should add schools to your list that are a good fit. Although there might be a little part of your heart that wants to go to the best school you can get into, there are many more factors to consider when it comes to your “fit” with a college.


Do You Have a Balanced College List?


Wondering whether the schools on your list are safeties, targets, or reaches? We’ve made it easy to figure out which schools fall into these categories with our free Admissions Chances Calculator. This tool will let you know your odds of acceptance, and it will give you tips on improving your profile.

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At CollegeVine, experts host weekly livestreams on college admissions topics, including application advice, essay writing tips, and college information sessions. To register or check out more livestreams, visit www.collegevine.com/livestreams.