Starting Your College List

Great Meet!

Friday’s class was a lot of fun! We all started really getting into the college search. You probably started seeing a lot of interesting colleges while using CollegeBoard.org with your mentor. Some of you even already had accounts! For those of you who are totally new to CB, it’s a good idea to log on and just play around for a while. The information that they have for every school is truly mind boggling, so just learning your way around the site is a must. One of the best ways to use CB is to make college lists.

Ways to Organize Your College List

Safety, Match, and Reach

One of the great ways to organize your college list is by sorting schools into categories based the selectivity of the school. One way to determine this is by creating a college search and using the “Applying” tab and basing a search off the school’s level of selectivity.


Another way is to simply go to the “Applying” tab under any school’s individual page.

school selectivity



In the “Applying” section you will find lots of information about what the schools are looking for in terms of GPAs, classes taken, SAT/ACT scores (and which tests you should take), as well as other dimensions that they consider when reviewing your application.

Important in here, you will find the average range scores that they draw from when selecting applicants. Here is a shot of what the “Middle 50%” scored at CSU San Jose. In other words, 25% of admitted Freshpersons scored less and 25% scored higher.

SAT range


If you don’t have any of these test scores or practice test scores yet, then you can check out average GPAs for admitted Freshmen.


This is when you are well-above the middle 50%. These are the schools tat you have a very good chance of getting into.


This is when you are within the middle 50%, but usually we say the high end of the middle 50% is a match school. You have a good chance of being accepted here.


This is when you are below the middle 50%. Prestigious schools like Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and UCLA should be considered reach schools no matter what your grades and scores. To get into these, you need to have a great essay and good extracurriculars.

Making a Tentative College List

Make yourself a list with 5 of each type of school on it. Don’t sweat this. It’s just a working list, you’ll make a lot of these. You can use this to do better research and also learn how to use CollegeBoard.org to its full potential.


Good luck with your college lists. We’ll see you again on Friday! Feel free to tell your friends about this, it’s not to late to jump on the program!