“What are my chances of getting into a good college?”

I’d reframe the question of “getting into a good college” as “What are my chances of getting into a college that’s good for me?”

All colleges are good.

The important issue is targeting which schools are best suited to a particular student’s learning style, academic interest, career aspirations, financial means, geographical purview and other aspects of collegiate life like extracurricular needs, student housing and meal plans.

When I sit down with a high school junior and their family to discuss college counseling, the first question I ask is: What do you like to do? This question usually dissipates any tension and immediately the student relaxes. Then we discuss a few “brass tacks” issues which I’ve nicknamed GAS:


Some students know exactly what part of the country — even the world — they want to go to for college. Others not so much. The latter generally says, “Anywhere.” While having location limitations makes my job of list curation a bit easier, the “Anywhere” students offer an adventure. Often these Anywheres are open to schools where the Acceptance Rates may be higher and therefore competition, lower. They may not be well-known schools to the student and their families, but many are institutions that have been around a long, long time. What’s always surprising to me is that many times the Specifics, those students who started off junior year, when we began working together, knowing EXACTLY what region of the US they wanted to study in often land elsewhere.


As with location or climate, many students know what they want to major in or at least what area of study they want to pursue. Some begin pre-med but by the time they’re hitting SUBMIT on applications, they’ve changed their thinking and opt for “something STEM-y.” This past season, I had a student convinced she wanted to go to an art school and at the 11th hour, she decided she didn’t want to be so limited in her studies. We did a quick pivot and focused her application list to focus on liberal arts colleges with strong visual arts departments.


At that first family meeting in the winter or spring of junior year, I’m surprised by the number of students who tell me that they’ve decided they want either a big or small school. Some are more precise and say, “I’d like to go to a medium-sized college or university with a lot of spirit.” This reminds me of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Most students are Goldilocks, not knowing exactly what’s the right fit until they visit a school, either in real-time or virtually. Once they zoom around a campus on their feet or with their cursor, they can tell. Students generally always know when a school’s just right.


For more information about College Counseling and Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at Elizabeth@eecollegecoach.com or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, and Instagram.