What are your “MATCH” colleges?
When it comes to college searches, a common recommendation is to identify “Reach, Match and Safety” schools. For the sake of not writing a forever long blog post, let’s focus on “Match” schools for now.
Match schools are exactly that, you fit a typically admitted student for the school and the school is at your academic level and has your interests. As you are conducting your college search you will want to look at 3 different factors, plus a few extras.
High School Courses
Most public or state schools have specific courses they want high school students to have completed. Each state is different, but for the most part they align with California’s A-G requirements. Some states may reference “College Prep Course Load.” This means that there is not a definitive list of required high school courses, but they are still looking for students who have taken a challenging high school course load that goes above and beyond high school graduation requirements.
Like some states, most private colleges do not have a definitive list of required high school courses, but do look for a “College Prep” course load. Something to be aware of with private schools is that some (especially if they have a special focus like computer science or the arts) will have or want students who have taken courses in their special focus area.
Your cumulative GPA is your overall GPA from 9th grade through your most recent grades (unless the college specifies different).
Standardized Test Scores
Colleges accept both the ACT or SAT so you will want to compare whichever test scores you have or anticipate earning. A challenge with comparing this is that each college looks at your test scores in generally one of 3 ways:
Super Score – Your highest score in each section from all of your tests added together (what you wish all colleges would do)
Best Test – The score from the test you did best on (most common)
Worst Test – the score from the test you did the worst on (least common)
Not all colleges publish how they interpret your test scores so if you want to find out, you will need to call the admissions office. Most colleges do take the score from your best test so if you don’t want to go through the hassle of calling the admissions office, your best bet will be to compare your best test score.
Other: Extracurricular Activities, Major, etc.
This “other” category is quite ominous. You’re really looking to see if you would fit in with the other students and focus of the school. Do they have your major? Does the school have clubs and student activities that you have participated in during high school or you are interested in getting involved with in college?
Not all colleges look at your extracurricular activities (most private schools do and some state schools do), but those who do will want to see that you have interests that align with what they have on their campus.
You can find most of the information on individual college websites and also on Collegeboard.com. To see if you are a match, compare your academics with the requirements or suggestions. When you look at GPA and scores, you will want to be at the average or slightly below or above.
Not every college is the right fit for every student. If you are in need of some guidance or would like more information about college searches, please contact me, Bethany@ElevateAchieve.com.