El Camino Real Charter High School
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Factors to Consider in Making Your College List

Location: California, East Coast, etc.  Where do relatives live?  What type of transportation is needed.
Size:  The size of the campus: 1 acre or 400 acres?  Enrollment: 25-50,000 students
Setting of the campus: Rural/ Suburban/ Urban?  Which are you more familiar with?
Academics:  What majors?  What minors? Doubt majors?  Can you change your majors?
Learning environment:  Large, small classrooms, discussion groups, accessibility of teachers?
Extracurricular options:  Intramural sports, clubs or organizations. What to do outside of class
Housing options:  Type and availability of dorms and other housing. Roommate issues
Cost to attend:  $15,000 to $60,000?  Do you plan to attend graduate school?
School spirit:  NCAA sports?  Banana slug vs. Trojans?

Safe, Target, Reach Colleges

Don’t include a school on your college list that you are not willing to attend.  Include schools that fall into one of the following three categories:  Safe, Target and Reach.  Apply to a few schools from each category.


A college where you would have been easily accepted the previous year.  You can be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools and be happy there.

  • You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework
  • Your SAT I Score or ACT is significantly above the average that was accepted last year
  • Your GPA is significantly above the averaged accepted last year


A college where your academic qualifications fall well within or even exceed the school’s range for the average freshman. These schools are places you will be very happy and most likely to be admitted. There are no guarantees, but it’s not unreasonable to be accepted to several of your target schools.

  • You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework
  • Your SAT I or ACT scores is at or above the average that was accepted last year
  • You GPA is above the average accepted last year


   You have all the qualifications and academic credentials fall within range or below the school’s range for the average freshman. These schools are your top choices, but more academically challenging to get into. Reach schools are long-shots but they should still be possible.

  • You SAT or ACT scores is about average or above the ones accepted last year
  • You GPA is at about or above the average accepted last year
  • You have taken the average or above number of honors/AP courses

College Search Engines

Naviance Program

Californiacolleges.edu Learn about the different colleges in California

College Board Big Future College Search Search for colleges that may be your “fit” by selecting your preferences; narrow your college list

My Road Map
From College Board and free to those who took the PSAT; includes a personality assessment

ACT College Search Engine Search for colleges and find information about colleges through your preferences such as by major

Cappex.com College Search Search for colleges, their profile, deadlines and what their campuses are like

Princeton Review College Search Search for colleges by state, majors, activities etc.

Learning about different types of School by Federal Student Aid General information about the different types of colleges and universities

College Planning by Peterson’s Get information about what to do as a 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grader to prepare for college

College Navigator Search for the right school for you based on your preferences; the official college database from the US Department of Education

Colleges that Change Lives College Search A non profit group that provides college searches based on the Colleges that Changed Lives College Week Live
The World’s Largest College Fair-online virtual tours of colleges and universities around the world.  Online workshops are also available. College Prowler Provides free college guides online that review different aspects about the college campus Get me to College Provides a comprehensive resource guide to first generation college goers. Myplan.com  This site has a personality test and career interest assessment Unigo.com Unigo’s college reviews is mostly based on student reviews around the country.  Keep in mind that these are student reviews of colleges. Colleges of Distinction Reviews of colleges, most of which are often not highlighted in mainstream guidebooks Colleges that Change Lives Colleges based on the book Colleges that Change Lives.  You can learn about some of these colleges and what makes them unique Historically Black Colleges Hispanic Serving Institutions Catholic Colleges Christian Colleges Colleges with Hillels on Campus

What are College Rankings? Handout on Websites for College Research

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