Building a College List in a Virtual World

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

How to Build Your College List in a Virtual World

Building your balanced college list is one of the most important steps in the application process. Students must do their research and visit campuses to pinpoint their best-fit options, but many might wonder how this all works in a virtual world. 

While there’s no doubt that your college search process may look a little different due to COVID safety protocols, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to identify the schools that best align with your interests and passions. Keep reading for our top tips for building a balanced college list in a virtual world. 

Weigh All of Your Options

There are more than 3,000 four-year institutions in the US, but all too often students have their sights set on the same list of 10 or so “name brand” schools. Instead of fixating on how well-known or prestigious a particular college is, it’s important to dig deep and determine which schools are really the best-fit for your individualized needs and goals. Begin by identifying some of the factors that might matter most to you during your college search, such as the campus feel or the majors and specializations a school is known for. Let these priorities lead your college admissions search, as opposed to focusing on the colleges that you’ve heard the most about. There are so many amazing options, so take the time to weigh all of your choices before narrowing down your list. 

Find Your Perfect Number

Many students might be a little unsure about how many colleges they should be applying to. Of course, you want to keep your options open, but how many college applications is too many? While the exact number of schools on your best-fit list will vary from student to student, generally 10-15 schools is a good range. If you apply to more than 15 colleges, the quality of your applications may start to suffer because you’ll need to tailor your essays and supplements to each school on your list. However, if you apply to too few colleges, you may miss out on some exciting opportunities that align with your interests and passions. The 10-15 range is often a happy medium for students. 

Don’t Overlook Virtual Tours

While some students may not have a chance to physically visit campuses, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on touring entirely. Many colleges have introduced virtual tours to give students the opportunity to get a feel for their campus without actually traveling. Virtual college tours can help students demonstrate their interest in a specific school, especially if you also sign up for a virtual information session. Information sessions are normally led by an admissions officer or Dean of Admissions and cover topics such as essay writing, the admissions process, and financial aid

Go Beyond the Virtual Visit

Virtual visits are an excellent starting point, but what should students do if they want to learn even more about a college on their best-fit list? Even if physical touring options are still limited, there are several steps students can take. You can audit a virtual class to get a sense of the kind of material that will be covered and what the classroom dynamics will feel like. Many schools are also introducing new virtual networking opportunities to help students learn more about their campuses. For example, NYU hosts Global Network Information Sessions, Yale offers a Multicultural Open House, and Princeton has Tiger Talks. 

Whether you visit schools in-person or virtually, it’s so important to research your options thoroughly when building your balanced college list. If you’re getting ready to apply to college and are looking for personalized guidance, our team of college admissions can point you in the right direction.

Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Application Tips
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