Developing a College List
One of the goals of meeting with your guidance counselor and doing research on various colleges is to create a college list. This list will take into account those characteristics and trademarks that are important to you, be it size, location, quality of particular academic or extracurricular programs, etc.
In working with you, your counselor will look at how previous Newton South students with similar academic credentials (using Naviance) have fared in the admission process. During the following months, you will continue to revise this list, taking into account your reactions after visiting or researching particular schools, or your changing interests and ideas about what you are looking for in a school. Even if you have outstanding credentials, you may not be offered admission by all of the colleges to which you apply. The most highly selective colleges deny far more students than they accept, with a number now accepting fewer than 10% of their applicants. Some may factor in your level of interest, which they ascertain by whether you have visited, interviewed, or remained in contact with the school throughout the admission process.
The final goal is to come up with a balanced group of six to eight schools (on average) which fall into three categories. The terms we use — reach, possible, and likely, are relative and not absolute. In determining whether a school is a reach, possible, or likely for an individual student, counselors factor in their best judgment, based on experience with other Newton South students and with the trends they see at a particular school. The definitions of these categories are:
These are schools where chances of admission are less likely, but there is some chance of admission. Your credentials may not be as strong as those of students who are typically admitted from Newton South. In most cases, these are schools where the percentage of admitted applicants to this school is extremely small, thereby affecting the chances of admission for everyone. When a student is admitted to a reach school, there is often a “hook” (a special talent) which becomes a significant factor in the college’s decision.
Your credentials for admission are truly competitive, and you are qualified for admission.
These are schools where your credentials are very competitive and you should be confident that you will be admitted. It is extremely important for students to identify the likely schools where they truly believe they can be happy and productive.
It is important to realize that the grouping of schools this way is not an exact science. These estimates assume continued strong coursework and a thoughtful, well-presented application.