11th Grade: Creating First Drafts of College Lists

It is never too early to start looking into college and 11th grade is the perfect time to set yourself on that path. One of the first steps of the journey is creating your college list, and we’re here to guide you with some tips to make the process easier!

TIP 1: Gather Your Sources

The first step to going to college is getting a sense of what colleges are out there and fit you. Information about schools of interest are available in more ways than one around you. The best place to start would be by contacting your high school college/guidance counselor for resources. From them they can point you to books, such as the “The Complete Book of Colleges, 2020 Edition: The Mega-Guide to 1,359 Colleges and Universities”, to help begin drafting your list. Websites such as The Princeton Review have categorized lists of schools to explore what’s out there and help guide your choices. Make sure to visit the websites of your colleges of interest to get up to date application information and school offerings.

TIP 2: Collect the Main Information

Each college and university is different and no two programs are exactly the same. Gathering the main points of information will begin to shine a light on which schools interest you and which ones don’t. Looking into SAT/ACT requirements and scores and GPA requirements will give you a sense of where you stand and may need to improve. Make sure to note if the school is small, medium, or large. Each school can vary in size and thus in environment. Similarly what kind of focus does the school have? Is it a liberal arts college, research university, state school? These will all affect the environment of the school you go to, and it’s important to note what kind of school works for you. Additionally, does the school have major offerings/academic programs you want? Lastly, what’s the estimated expected cost of the school for you (check out expected costs calculators on school websites) and what are the school’s financial aid standings? These are all pieces of information you’ll want to make sure you note!

TIP 3: Get Organized

Getting organized helps you keep track of all of your research and it allows you to compartmentalize the college search process a bit, minimizing the stress around the whole thing. Early in the process, create a digital or written spreadsheet. It should include information on each college, including size, majors available/of interest, admissions requirements and deadlines, and whether the school’s admissions requirements make it a reach, target, or safety school for you

TIP 4: How Will You Apply?

Once you have a general list of where you’d like to go, it’s a good idea to check out different application websites you will use to later apply. Each school will have different application requirements such as deadlines and writing supplements, and you can check them out by visiting the websites before you officially apply!

The Common Application (also known as the Common App) is a college application used to help prospective college students apply to multiple institutions at once. You can apply to many SUNY and private colleges and universities using the common app!

The CUNY Application– You can apply to multiple CUNY campuses using a single application. You should determine your college choices and academic programs before starting your application. 

ApplySUNY is the application portal that allows you to complete an application for admission to nearly every SUNY campus all in one place.

TIP 5: Be Open to Change

Your first list will likely not be your final list. As you get more information about schools and begin to experience them yourself (check out virtual tours) what you want can vastly change. Allow yourself to be open, listen to recommendations, and most importantly stay true to yourself along the whole process! Your final list may be an entirely different list from what you started with, but trust yourself and the process.

Helpful Links

SUNY Virtual Tours https://www.suny.edu/attend/visit-us/campus-visit/

CUNY Virtual Tours https://www.cuny.edu/admissions/undergraduate/explore/tours/