Step 5 - Narrowing your list and preparing your content

Step 5 is narrowing the list of colleges based on research and fit, thoroughly visiting and evaluating top choices, excelling at interviews/writing, taking required tests, and soliciting recommendations. This further solidifies the college short list.

  1. Refine Long List - More looking at your long list. You should be looking to use your research and your priorities to bring down the long list of colleges to a more refined short(er) list of top choices that are a good fit academically, socially, and financially.

  2. Plan Campus Visits - Plan official visits to top choice campuses on the shortlist. If you can, experience each in person, take tours, attend info sessions, and absolutely talk to students and graduates from that university. Virtual is a good option if you cannot get there.

  3. Mock Interviews - Practice interviews with counselors, teachers, and parents to prepare for college admissions interviews. They are often really difficult and you probably will not want to do it. But, you should and it will give you an opportunity to; reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, goals, interests, and qualifications. If you need an interview, get some practice.

  4. Demonstrated Interest - Continue demonstrating interest in shortlisted colleges through emails, attending local info events, and social media engagement. Track interactions. It might not help, but for some, it can make all the difference.

  5. Writing Workshops - Attend writing workshops and work 1-on-1 with the counsellor to brainstorm ideas and begin drafts of the main personal statement, college essay and/or supplemental essays. The work you produce MUST be yours! But, I have a way to really help you out here, so try not to worry.

  6. Standardized Tests - If you really must take additional standardized tests and subject tests, plan for these as early as you can. Ensure scores meet college expectations and application deadlines. Only retake if you absolutely, 100% need them.

  7. Request Recommendations - Reach out to chosen recommenders from Step 4 and formally request letters of recommendation. Provide resumes, deadlines, and details on how to submit. Your counsellor will provide additional information and guidance to your recommenders. Make sure you ask politely. It is a big deal.