Tips for Creating Your College Application List

Posted on November 4th, 2020 by acsrochester

Seven is a lucky number for many, and it’s also the perfect number of colleges to apply to. As you build your college application list, make sure you have the right mix of colleges: 2-3 “reach” schools, 3-4 “likelies”, and 2-3 “sure things” based on your academic profile and the colleges’ published middle-50% ranges. However, even if your academic profile falls into the colleges’ standardized test and grade point average ranges for admitted students, nothing is guaranteed! Here are a few more tips for creating your ideal college application list… 


Find Your Major

You do not need to decide right now what you will do for the rest of your life. However, it is good to include on your college application list schools that offer coursework, majors, minors, or concentrations in academic areas that pique your interest. It sometimes helps to think about your favorite classes and teachers in high school — let that help guide your college search as you narrow down options. If you are undecided, make sure you apply to colleges with a variety of academic options. Seek out colleges that are doing cutting-edge research that excites you. Look for faculty who remind you of your favorite teachers.


Picture Yourself

Your college application list should be your own. Ultimately, you will attend college for the next four years. While I recommend you consult with parents, friends, and advisors, this is your college application journey — own the process. You should only apply to colleges where you can picture yourself being happy and intellectually-fulfilled. If school spirit and game days are not your thing, skip those colleges known for diehard fans and top-notch athletics. If it’s not your dream to attend an Ivy-league school, let it be known. Just because a certain college worked for your cousin or parent, it doesn’t mean it’s your perfect match, too. 


Think Local

Consider the colleges you may know best! Having attended Duke University, which is only 30 minutes away from my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, I definitely appreciated my familiarness with the area and the proximity to my family… but I also made it clear to my parents that they could not just drop by whenever they felt like it! Don’t fall into the trap of overlooking some great local colleges. There are many benefits to attending college closer to home: you may enjoy preferential treatment in the admissions process by being a local applicant, not to mention some financial perks — think about the money you’ll save by not having to purchase plane tickets during school breaks! Even though you’re close to home, you can still have college experience that feels like you’re miles away.


Think Broadly

Don’t limit yourself based on geography. If you dream of attending college among the palm trees of California, you should absolutely include some west coast schools in your college application list. In fact, some majors are dependent on their location. For example, it’s hard (but not impossible) to study marine biology without proximity to the ocean. Make sure you do your research to find colleges that are attracting scholars and students equally excited about your interests, regardless of their location.


Reach for the Stars

You will regret not applying to your dream school. Even if your test scores and grades fall well outside published mid-50% ranges, you will always wonder “what could have been?” Just make sure you have a few more realistic options to balance out your big dreams. Also spend time getting the application and essays for your dream school just right, to make sure you’re giving yourself every advantage during the admissions process. 


Narrow Things Down

The more you narrow things down on the front end, the less angst you’ll have at the end of the process. Applying to more than 10 colleges is delaying the decision-making process. By narrowing things down on the front end, you’ll have an easier spring when you receive admission decisions and ultimately decide where to enroll. Plus, refining the college application list early means you won’t have to write application essays for school that you’re not seriously considering.


Interested in chatting with a former Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Selection?

With degrees from Duke, Miami, and Rice, as well as 15 years of selective college admissions experience, please consider Emily Nevinger a resource as you compile your college application list. Emily can set up virtual appointments to discuss what is important about your college search and offer strategic, personalized advice about your application process. 

Emily Nevinger

Emily Nevinger

Emily is Associate Director of Admissions and College Advising Consultant at Allendale Columbia School. After serving as the Interim College Advisor in Fall 2018, Emily took on a role to offer students and families outside AC with guidance in the college admissions process. Her role has since expanded to the Admissions team, where she helps prospective families learn more about AC's innovative education. Emily joined AC from Emory University where she directed the selection process for more than 20,000 freshmen candidates each year. She started working at the university level in 2003 and was a senior member of the admission committees for University of Miami, Emory University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, a Master of Higher Education Administration and Enrollment Management from the University of Miami, and a Certificate in College Access Counseling from Rice University.
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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC Lunch & Learn

Posted on September 18th, 2020 by acsrochester

Drop in (virtually) for a minute or stay for an hour!

Chat with the Allendale Columbia Admissions Team ANY Wednesday between noon and 1 p.m. to learn more about AC! Each Lunch & Learn has a different theme to highlight AC’s various opportunities, but we are happy to answer any questions you may have!

Upcoming Lunch & Learns

December 2, 2020
Admissions & Financial Aid Deadlines at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Allendale Columbia is focused on making the right match for each student. Families are encouraged to submit admission and financial aid applications in January for priority consideration. Join us to learn more about the timetable for submitting your materials, whether you are looking to make a change now or for the 2021-2022 school year. Register Now!

December 9, 2020
Lower School at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Allendale Columbia’s innovative approach to education in the Lower School (grades K-5) ensures that our young learners master essential skills while also being nurtured and challenged to pursue their own curiosities of the world. Our classrooms are filled with purpose, excitement, and a joy for learning exhibited by both our students and teachers. Join us to learn about current availability in the Lower School and our admissions process. Register Now!

December 16, 2020
Middle School and Upper School at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

In Allendale Columbia’s Middle School (grades 6-8), you will see students asking questions, building robots, solving problems, laughing, playing, developing crazy ideas, and sharing with their friends, teachers, and the larger Rochester community. Allendale Columbia’s Upper School (grades 9-12) allows for students to participate in hands-on, in-depth learning that prepares them for college and the real world. AC offers classes that go beyond the AP curriculum so students can more deeply explore their favorite subjects. Join us to learn about AC’s Middle and Upper School and our admissions process. Register Now!

January 6, 2021
Admissions & Financial Aid Deadlines at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Allendale Columbia is focused on making the right match for each student. Families are encouraged to submit admission and financial aid applications in January for priority consideration. Join us to learn more about the timetable for submitting your materials, whether you are looking to make a change now or apply for the 2021-2022 school year. Register Now!

Friday, January 15, 2021
Open House
9:00 a.m.

Join us for a virtual Open House to connect and see if Allendale Columbia School is the right fit for your family! As part of our school-wide effort to maintain and practice responsible physical distancing, our Friday, January 15th at 9:00 a.m. Open House will be held virtually through Zoom! Open House participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear from Interim Head of School Shannon Baudo and our Division Heads. Attendees will also be notified as soon as AC’s campus re-opens for visitors so we can schedule your in-person campus tour and playdate! Register for Open House

January 20, 2021
Current Parent Perspectives 
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

At Allendale Columbia, you will find parents who are passionate about giving their children the best educational experience, and they often say they have chosen AC not just for the academics but for the community. Join us as current parents share firsthand accounts of AC’s genuine partnerships with families. Register Now!


January 27, 2021
AC Student Panel 
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

AC provides students with a positive intellectual and social peer group within an incredibly diverse educational setting. As one student said recently, “It’s cool to be smart, and it is easy to be yourself.” Join us for our student panel as we provide a glimpse into daily life at AC, including student schedules and opportunities. Register Now!


February 3, 2021
Global Engagement at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

The AC Center for Global Engagement focuses on a proprietary curriculum that supports AC’s Global Engagement Diploma. In this program, students embark on service-learning, research, entrepreneurial, and cultural-immersion international trips and participate in leadership and exchange opportunities within the local community and across the world. Join us to discover how our students become global leaders.  Register Now!


February 10, 2021
STEM and Innovation at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

The AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation helps build enthusiasm, engagement, and fluency through authentic learning experiences. We challenge students to learn critical thinking, creativity in problem solving, reflection, and communication – solidifying skills that students can transfer across STEM content areas and the arts. Whether in our STEM, Research and Writing course or through the lower school robotics team, we coach our students to develop critical and innovative thinking as they solve problems and overcome challenges. Learn how AC students are making an impact with their peers, our local community, nationally, and globally through our AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation. Register Now!


February 24, 2021
Entrepreneurship at AC
Drop in 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates opportunities for our students to make an impact on the world at an unprecedented level by learning to adapt to a constantly evolving world, connecting globally, and carving their own path. Join us to learn how our students become innovative, creative, thoughtful people who look at problems as exciting challenges to be solved. Register Now!


Can’t make it to our Lunch & Learns?
Contact us to schedule a personal video chat!

In the meantime, check out these resources to get a feel for life and learning at AC!



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