If You Don’t Fit, Don’t Go: Choosing Colleges to Apply to

January 19, 2016

Choosing the colleges that you’re planning on applying to can be a very difficult process. Since there are thousands of schools available for you to choose from, it’s not always easy to narrow it down to a select few to focus on. Every student is different - some care more about location than size, while others want school spirit in favor of rigorous academics. So how will you choose? We asked some of our Admits from Cornell how they went about making their decisions. 

Jackie7: First, see if you will fit into the school. No matter how prestigious you may think a particular college is, if you don’t see yourself fitting there, you will not have the best college experience you can. Also, look up the majors and flexibility in curriculum offered at the schools. In case you want to switch majors, see how much wiggle room you have. Lastly, get a feel for what the Alumni are like. These are people who have graduated from that particular college; if you feel a strong connection with the alumni, you will probably enjoy your time at that particular college as well.

Jackie7: I believe that you should apply to around 8-10 schools. My composition was: 4 reach, 2 mid range, and 2 safety/fits. I think this is a a well-balanced mixed as I got into 1 reach, 2 mid range and 2 safety/fits. For the reaches, these are your dream schools, so be brave and apply to those that you truly want to attend, do not pay attention only to the “brand”, look at what schools have the best programs (academic, athletic, etc) that you are interested in and try to talk with current students to learn more. For the others, be practical: location, cost (if a factor), career services, etc.

lifesong: Decide for yourself whether or not you care if the school is a city or country school, if you want to be close to home, if you want a big or small school, and what type of opportunities you want to have available. Also be realistic with your range, but don’t be afraid reach a bit! Just make sure you don’t just apply to reach schools but also have a solid base of safety/middle schools that you want to go to. Only apply where you’d want to go. You could also do a bit of research . Oh and New York TImes ratings and the like mean absolutely nothing, because you have no idea what they base their ratings off of. What ratings do matter are things like graduate employment rate, medical school acceptance rate, long term average income, etc.

aimeecho: My mom went to Cornell, and after visiting the campus the summer before senior year, I fell in love. Ithaca is absolutely gorgeous. Everybody seemed really diverse and intellectual, but also really friendly and open-minded. There were so many different offerings, in both courses and extra-curriculars. This sounds cheesy, but Ezra Cornell’s founding motto “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study” holds completely true today. You can literally find a class or club relating to any interest you have. And if by some small chance you can’t, Cornell is completely supportive if you want to start a new club.

norarabah: My mindset was, if I apply to a bunch of schools, I’m bound to get into a couple of really good ones. I would definitely first consider where you want to spend four years of your life. I’m from California but I knew I wanted to go to the East Coast, so asides from the UC’s, all of my schools were on the East Coast, had a high rank, had my major, and looked like Hogwarts.




Cornellian: Visit the schools. If you know anyone currently there, ask to stay for a weekend and meet the people there. See if you fit in and enjoy the atmosphere.

Looking for help with applications? Get in touch with mentors from all different schools across the country for help with your college applications and essays. Search through our database of admitted students to find mentors that match with you. See how they got in, and see how you can too.

About The Author

Drew Evans
Drew Evans

​Drew is a content and social media guru. When he’s not working, he loves to photograph, play music, play sports, and travel. He is also weirdly obsessed with Thai food, Girl Scout cookies, and learning new languages (even though he’s not fluent in any). For any editorial ideas, contact info@admitsee.com.




Browse Successful Application Files

Paula2020
Cornell ‘20


Accepted to Cornell, Macalester, UC Berkeley, Holyoke, Stony Brook, UC Merced, UCSB, UCSC

I'm a future MD/PhD student who will start attending Cornell University as a Freshman in the fall. I love dancing, and hope to make Cornell's cheer squad next year. I also like helping my community, and I'm basically addicted to tea.
helena32
Cornell ‘17


Accepted to Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCSB, UCSC

Junior majoring in Econ and minoring in Information Science.
andrew.b
Cornell ‘18


Accepted to Cornell, BC, RPI, Pitt, Miami, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Oxford, Columbia

Current student at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (transfer from University of Miami)
lyz17
Cornell ‘17


Accepted to Cornell, Georgetown, McGill, UToronto, Western Ontario

Cornell 2017 January grad - Ask me about econ, working on campus, being an international student, early graduation, and anything else :)

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