Now is the time when juniors should start thinking about where to send college applications. This is a difficult decision, but here are a few steps to make the decision on which colleges to apply for easier.

1. Find Out Your Priorities

One good way to find a college you want is to find out your priorities. There are lots of online resources like College Board that help you find colleges based on categories like majors offered, size, location, cost, and other factors. If you can figure out what factors matter to you, and in what order, you can figure what colleges are best for you.

2. Make A List of Colleges

Once you have those priorities in place, you need to make a list of colleges that are in line with those priorities. Rank the colleges based on how they fit with your priorities. Cut out the ones that do not seem to fit in, but keep them in mind in case you change your mind later.

3. Divide Your List Into Categories

Next, you need to divide the list of colleges into categories: safety, match, and reach. When applying to college, you need to make sure you are applying to a wide enough variety. Make sure you have some safety schools (in which you are relatively sure you will be accepted), match schools (where you may be accepted but you are not completely sure), and reach schools (where there is a smaller chance you will be accepted). If you do not have a college or two of each category in the list, go back and pick out some more colleges.

4. Shorten the List

With the list colleges and categories in hand, you can now start to shorten the list. Still making sure you have colleges in each of the three categories, start cutting out the schools that are not a good fit for you. Add everything about the application process to this shorter list. How many essays does it require? Does it use Common App? And most importantly, when is the application due? Having this all in one place ensures you won’t miss any deadlines. Now, you can start actually applying to these colleges.

Follow these four steps to find out which good-fit colleges you will be applying to as a senior.

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