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Articles / Applying to College / How to Strategize Your B-List of Colleges

How to Strategize Your B-List of Colleges

Elena Loveland
Written by Elena Loveland | Dec. 13, 2019
How to Strategize Your B-List of Colleges


If you applied Early Decision (ED) and you didn't get the news you wanted, you may be looking for solutions. Hopefully, you have already made a list of backup colleges to apply to, but if not, there is no better time than now to create a second choice, or "B-list" of colleges where you should consider applying.

The ED2 Round May Be for You

Weingarten says that in advance of hearing from their ED school of choice, many of her students have already selected an ED2 option.

"We will typically meet with any student who wasn't accepted into their ED school to make sure that their ED2 choice still works for them. As the process evolves, sometimes students change what they are looking for in their college experience," explains Weingarten. "In addition, we encourage all students to submit EA applications, so that along with their ED decision, they have answers from other colleges too. That way, if their ED doesn't work out, they hopefully still have some EA acceptance that can help ease their disappointment. And if they have those acceptances, then they may not need to create another list of colleges."

If you still have to create a list of more colleges to apply to, it is important to include several factors when you are creating any college application list, including B-college lists.

"Students should build a college list based on multiple factors that are important to students and their parents, including intended major, location, size, cost (which includes probability of financial aid), support services for learning differences, diversity, school spirit, Greek life, athletics, career services and statistics such as four-year graduation rates," Endlich says. "I generally try to downplay prestige, ranking or selectivity when creating a list, though of course for some families these factors matter a great deal. If balanced list that meets the student's criteria is created, then it's a simple matter of applying to more schools on the list after being denied at the first-choice college."

Cast a Wide Net

It is important to consider all types of colleges on your B-list — not the most elite institutions, but other institutions that may be considered not quite as selective. Also, investigate options that may be more financially beneficial, such as a community college with a seamless transfer program to a well-known state university.

"Parents of a certain age may recall the ad campaign from the 1970s for 'Designer Imposter' fragrances," says Carolyn Kilgus, founder of Cast-A-Net College Admissions Consulting in Carmel, N.Y. "If you couldn't afford a designer perfume you could go to your local drug store and buy an affordable knock off scent. Similarly, I encourage students to consider the most important characteristics of their 'A List' colleges and find financially realistic options. Look beyond name brands and do some soul searching as to what you are really looking for in a college. I love Steve Antonoff's The College Finder; students can find colleges that fit them for all sorts of reasons."

Remember that the entire process still applies — you will need to send your transcripts, obtain and send recommendation letters, figure out if there are school-specific essays or optional materials to send, and of course, get it done by the next deadline. Enlist the help of your school counselor if you are feeling overwhelmed. If you have any free time, you may even want to visit colleges that may not be too far from your home over winter break.

Written by

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland has been a writer and editor covering higher education and college admissions for 18 years and is the author of Creative Colleges: Finding the Best Programs for Aspiring Artists, Designers, Dancers, Musicians, Writers, and More. Creative Colleges has earned recognition in the College Bound Teen, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Gate and U.S. News and World Report's Annual College Guide. Loveland has spoken at the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the University of the Arts, as well as several high schools about college admission for creative students. She has worked for the National Association for College Admission Counseling as editor of the Journal of College Admission and for NAFSA: Association of International Educators as editor-in-chief of International Educator magazine. As an independent journalist, Loveland.s work has appeared in numerous publications such as American Careers, Dance Teacher, Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education, International Educator, Pointe, Teen Vogue, University Business and the U.S. News & World Report's Annual College Guide, among several others. She has a master's degree in English and has been an adjunct instructor at three higher education institutions. Loveland provides private college admissions consulting to families upon request. She lives in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

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