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Building a college list is the best first step for your student in reaching the goal of getting into college. College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.  You are an important voice in helping your student match to a college appropriately.


What Does “Match” Mean?

“Match” is a reflection of the academic record and academic needs of a student. This consists of your student knowing their numbers – things like test scores, GPA, and class rank – and their academic record – things like course taken, rigor level (regular, Honors, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment), and subject interests. This can translate into matching to college through the lens of admission requirements, admitted student profiles, and academic programs offered.

How to Stay Engaged

You can be engaged in this process by knowing these things about your student so that you can be a supportive voice in the research and narrowing process. This is your student’s process, but a team beats the individual, so your engagement is important to their success. Encourage and participate in the research when possible. An easy way to do this is to search “Admitted Student Profile” with college names that are of interest. If using myOptions, you can look at each school’s admission selectivity too – – – this will tell you the percentage of students that apply who are admitted. These will reflect the academic composition that the college admits and serves, a great indicator for match.

High School Transcripts

It is also important to ensure that your student’s high school courses match the high school course admission requirements. Some colleges and academic programs require certain classes to be on the high school transcript – completed or in progress – to be admitted. For example, many engineering programs require that the student has taken high school Calculus. You can typically find this information on a college website, but the admission office staff is there to help, too!

Categorize Your Choices

When building the college list, colleges can be sorted into three categories: Likely, Target, and Reach. Likely schools are those that typically admit a student with the academic profile of your student. One way to think about this is “are my student’s “numbers” on the top end of their admitted student profile?”  Target schools are those where your student matches the average admitted student profile. While there is a good chance of being admitted, there is also a chance of waitlist or denial based on holistic application reviews. Reach schools are those where your student’s academic profile fall to the lower end of the admitted student profile. Ideally, a student will apply to at least two schools in each category.

Being an active participant in these conversations are certain to help your student craft a college application list of strong matches. Research shows students who are well matched to a college are more likely to enroll, persist, and graduate from college. This is why match matters. But match is not the only component in the college decision process. Non-academic factors contribute to a student’s “fit” for a college and are also important to consider.

Utilize myOptions

A great next step is for your student to begin their exploration by creating a free myOptions profile complete with an enhanced college matching algorithm to provide 25 solid matches. This list can then be narrowed through the lens of “fit” – or non-academic factors – to solidify the final college application list.  As a family member or mentor, you can connect with your student in the platform via myOptions Encourage so that you can see their progress and support along the way.