First and foremost, it is about you and no one else; not your parents, your siblings, your cousins and your friends. Each of your personal profiles is a blend of intellectual and extracurricular talents that shape a direction separate from anyone else. Understand your talents and interests as they relate to coursework, standardized testing, and outside activities. From a personal awareness comes the ability to then find colleges that are a match in both academics and campus culture. Find those matches by taking advantage of resources such as search engines that allow you to input your profile and what you’re looking for in a college.

Unlike your parents’ generation before you, now more than ever academics are the primary driver of understanding whether you are a match for schools- not standardized tests or leadership, service and special talents. Yes, of course, the latter are all very important elements of your story, but how you perform in coursework along with the rigor of that coursework offers you the first indication of admission opportunity.

Whether you are a 3.0, 3.5, or 4.0 student, there are hundreds of colleges that match each academic profile. And, at every academic level, colleges are excited about accepting you! Fact: the majority of students applying to college are B students. Remember that we live in a bubble here in Ridgefield that does not mimic the statistics of the United States, in general. Every one of you has the opportunity to attend college and find future happiness and success given your story.

So, when building a list that may include criteria based on size, location, majors, facilities, music, sports and more, if your GPA matches the average admit rate of students, you are creating a target lists of schools. If your GPA falls below or above, that’s when the terms safety and reach, respectfully come into play. There is no guarantee of admission despite target or safety levels, but this type of analysis helps to give you a reality check.

Said differently, admissions evaluations are not a perfect science; this rule of thumb gives you an idea of admissions probabilities, but is not the only indicator of future acceptance.

When creating a long college list of several schools to start, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, adding campuses of different sizes and locations. You are 16 or 17 years old- you have a lot of exploration and discovery ahead. How you feel today may be very different than how you feel tomorrow. I find that now more than ever, the final list of schools represents a variety of college types with the academic focus often being the common denominator.

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