The decision about if and where to go to college is likely one of the most important decisions you will make during your life; it’s an investment in your and your family’s future.
The Match & Fit List Builder provides you with a starting place in your college search.
There are lots of resources, but it’s hard to know where to look, which sources are credible, and what is relevant to a student in Atlanta Public Schools. The Match & Fit List Builder helps you build a balanced college list—a critical step in the college-going process. Your list should include at least 2 colleges in each of the academic match categories: Target, Reach, and Likely.
Why do I need to think about match & fit?
You should make sure to find a college where you are likely to do well and earn a degree or credential. How do you know what to look for? You should look for colleges that are a good academic match and a strong financial, personal, and social fit.
How do I get started on the college search and list building process?
You may have already started thinking about colleges and doing some online research. But if not, make sure to get started during your junior year. Here are some helpful tips:
- Use the Match & Fit List Builder to build an initial college list that meets your academic, personal, and financial needs. It should include at least 2 Target, 2 Reach, and 2 Likely schools, but hopefully many more!
- Continue to research colleges online (the List Builder will direct you to the college’s website and College Scorecard, but you can also visit other search engines like Big Futures and follow colleges on social media).
- Talk with your family, counselor, and teachers about colleges.
- Visit colleges, attend college fairs, and meet with college reps who come to your high school.
- Continue to refine your college list. You can log back into the List Builder and refine your list. Also, as your GPA and test scores change (hopefully improve!), you may want to adjust your list.
- At the start of senior year, share your list with your counselor or college adviser to finalize where you will apply.
- If your GPA changes, you can log back in to see how that changes your options
There are 6 basic steps to the List Builder:
- Log in to the List Builder and choose the start button.
- Confirm or adjust your profile to see your college match options.
- Adjust the fit filters to update your options with your preferences.
- Learn more about your college options.
- Add colleges to your list. You should have a minimum of 2 Target, 2 Reach, and 2 Likely colleges.
- Share your list with your family, counselor, and/or college adviser and update as needed.
As you learn more about the colleges on your list, as well as others, you can log back in and update your list. Remember, you want to have a balanced college list—aim high and apply to multiple Reach and Target colleges, but make sure you also have some Likely colleges too. Come decision time, you want options—all of which are a good financial, personal, and social fit for you.
You should use the Match & Fit List Builder because it provides a simple process to create a list of colleges that meet your academic, personal, social, and financial needs and interests. It is designed specifically for APS students—using historical APS college enrollment and admissions data, and taking into account Georgia college entrance exam requirements—so it is more accurate than generic tools.
You should start to using the Match & Fit List Builder during your junior year. It is most useful once you have your PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores in the tool because it will use your GPA and test scores to determine which colleges are in each of your academic match categories (Target, Reach, Likely). As you receive new test scores or your GPA changes, you can log back in to see how that changes your options.
These are categories that help make sense of how well your academic profile (GPA + college entrance test scores like SAT/ACT/PSAT) matches the college’s academic profile—and thus, tell you something about your likelihood of being admitted. Two additional categories that are not as common are Very Likely and Far Reach. An explanation of each category is below:
- Target Colleges: Your academic profile is within the college/university’s average range. You have a good chance of being admitted.
- Reach Colleges: Your academic profile is lower than the college/university’s average range. It’s possible you will be admitted, but it’s a stretch. Reach colleges can also be highly selective institutions that are hard to gain admission to, even for students with the highest GPAs and test scores.
- Likely Colleges: Your academic profile exceeds the college/university’s average range. You have a strong chance of being admitted. These are also known as “undermatch” colleges, where students may be less likely to earn a degree or credential.
- Very Likely Colleges: Your academic profile is well above the college/university’s average range. You have a very strong chance of being admitted.
- Far Reach Colleges: Your academic profile is significantly lower than the college/university’s average range. It is unlikely that you will be admitted.
Although the List Builder does not guarantee acceptance to any particular colleges, it will help you build a list of options that can evolve if your academic performance or interests change.
No! In fact, the opposite. We have found that many students are not aware of all the colleges that could be great options for them! And because the List Builder shows you which colleges have admissions criteria aligned with your academic profile, you’ll have a better idea of which colleges are a good academic match.
Individual students are responsible for building their college list. However, we encourage all families to participate in the process, given the financial decisions that factor into the postsecondary enrollment process.
Data Used in the Match & Fit List Builder
The List Builder uses your overall GPA and highest test scores that the school district has on record for you to determine which colleges are Target, Reach, and Likely colleges for you. If you have both SAT and ACT scores, it will use whichever set of scores is highest (without Superscoring). PSAT scores are only used if you do not have SAT or ACT scores in the tool. If you would like to see how your matches change if you earn a higher GPA or test score, you can adjust them in the List Builder and see how your options change.
Some colleges are single-gender institutions. For example, Spelman is a college for women and Morehouse is a college for men. If you identify as Male or Female in the List Builder, it will filter out any single-gender colleges for the gender you do not select. You can choose “Prefer not to answer” if you do not want your options to be limited.
The List Builder asks for your annual household income to provide you with more accurate information about the potential cost of the colleges on your list. Families who make less money often pay less for college. If you do not know your annual household income, we encourage you to ask your parent or guardian to help you choose which category best fits your family’s annual income so that you can get a better idea of college costs.
A college’s graduation rate is an important piece of information about the college—it tells you the likelihood of a student earning a degree or credential. It also often signals a college’s ability to support students, either academically and/or financially. While not the only factor to consider when deciding where to apply and enroll, it is an important one.
The Estimated Cost Per Year is the average amount of what students pay each year after federal and institutional grants and scholarships are deducted. This is calculated by adding the advertised price for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and the average living costs at the school (on-campus, off-campus not with family, and off-campus with family) and subtracting the average grant and/or scholarship aid (e.g., Pell grants, school-based grants, merit scholarships). This is calculated as the average over all full-time, first-time students who receive federal financial aid and may not reflect a specific student’s annual costs. The Estimated Cost Per Year is often referred to as Net Price.
If you choose “Estimated Yearly Household Income” on the My Information page, the Estimated Cost Per Year will be the average for students at that college in the Household Income category you chose. If you choose “Don’t Know” for your Estimated Yearly Household Income, the Estimated Cost Per Year you see will be the average for all students at that college, no matter their household income.
Important! The Estimated Cost Per Year does NOT take into account the Achieve Atlanta Scholarship unless the “Adjust Estimated Cost Per Year with. . .Achieve Atlanta Scholarship” filter is set to “Yes”.
The Match & Fit List Builder prioritizes colleges based on their graduation rates to ensure APS students are considering colleges with adequate support systems to help students be successful in their postsecondary education. At the top of your options, you can expand to see more options or choose to sort the colleges in alphabetical order or by Estimated Cost per Year. But, remember to take the graduation rate into consideration as you make your decision.
What are my chances of being admitted to a school that is listed as a Target school? Likely school? Reach school?
There is no exact science to college admissions. The match categories help give you a general idea based upon your academic profile, past APS students’ college applications, and national data on college selectivity. That’s why you should apply to multiple colleges across all match categories so that you have options.
Test-optional colleges do not require applicants to submit SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER scores to be considered for admissions. Most often, test-optional colleges are fairly competitive colleges that use a “holistic review” process for admissions—including grades, coursework, extracurricular interests, essays, unique student factors, and letters of recommendation. Test-optional schools could be an option for you if you have a high GPA but low test scores. Speak to your counselor or college adviser to learn more.
Yellow diamonds provide a “caution” signal that the college has SAT section and ACT subject test score minimum requirements, and you have not included these test scores. By clicking on the yellow diamond, you can see the college’s minimum score requirements in the blue box that appears in the top right corner.
Red diamonds provide a “warning” signal that your SAT or ACT subject test scores do not meet the minimum requirements of the college. You are unlikely to be admitted to the college without meeting those requirements. By clicking on the red diamond, you can see the college’s minimum score requirements in the blue box that appears in the top right corner.
Clicking on the college’s name will pull up a blue box with some basic information. You can also choose “Click here to learn more about the college” below the blue box to go to the college’s page on College Scorecard. This is a helpful website that provides information on everything from average salaries after graduation to the percent of students who receive financial aid, student body demographics, fields of study, and much more. You can also compare colleges on College Scorecard.
If you still want to learn more:
- Visit the college’s website.
- Explore other search tools like the Georgia Student Financial Commission website or the College Board Big Future website.
- Follow the college’s social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This will give you an idea of the college’s campus and culture.
- Sign up to attend the college rep visit; seek them out at a college fair; and, if you can, try to make an in-person visit to the campus.
First, make sure it is a balanced list. As you finish out your junior year, continue to research colleges and update your list as you gain a clearer picture of the type of college you want to attend—and as your academic profile changes. Share your list with your family and your counselor or college adviser to see if they have further recommendations on colleges to consider. At the start of senior year, finalize this list and begin applying to colleges!
The List Builder is available to APS juniors and seniors. Make sure you use your school district email and associated password to log in. Student emails have the form @student.apsk12.org. Typically, your username is your first initial plus the first 7 letters of your last name plus the last 4 digits of your student number.
Example: George Washington might look like this GWashing1234@apsk12.org
Your password is the one you typically use to login to an APS computer or Infinite Campus. Reach out to your counselor if you still can’t login to the List Builder.
I attend a charter school (Atlanta Classical Academy, STEAM Academy at Carver, Drew Charter School Senior Academy, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate). Can I use the Match & Fit List Builder?
Yes, all APS juniors can use the List Builder. Charter and partner schools have distinct login processes. Speak with a counselor or technology specialist at your school for help.
My Information Page
The Match & Fit List Builder asks for your annual family income to provide you with more accurate information about the potential cost of the colleges you choose to put on your list. This is because families who make less money often pay less for college.
If you feel comfortable, we encourage you to ask your parent or guardian to help you choose which category best fits your family’s annual income. Often, the earlier you start talking about college costs, the better.
If you are not able to ask a family member or approximate your family’s annual income, you can choose “Don’t Know” from the drop-down menu. This will provide the average estimated college costs for all students (no matter their family income) who attend each college.
The Match & Fit List Builder asks for section and subject test scores because many colleges in Georgia have minimum score requirements for admissions. You can login to your College Board account to find your SAT section scores or your ACT account to find your ACT subject test scores.
You can still build your college list without SAT section scores or ACT subject test scores (you will see a yellow circle in the box with your SAT or ACT score information, which means you have not provided these scores). However, without including these scores, you will not know if you meet the minimum score requirements to be admitted to any University System of Georgia (USG) institutions. If you have not met the requirements for a specific college/university, a red diamond will appear next to any USG institutions with minimum test score requirements.
There is a lag from when you take a test or get an updated GPA to when it will show up in the Match & Fit List Builder. If you have more recent information, you can input that in the tool to see how that will impact the colleges on your list and which match category they fall into (Far Reach, Reach, Target, Likely, Very Likely).
Using Filters and Searching for Colleges
You have probably chosen filters that have narrowed down your options. Try expanding your filters. For example, select more major options or a larger geographic region.
I want to search for colleges outside of the state of Georgia but the filter doesn't show any other states.
You will first need to adjust the Region filter by choosing either Southeast or USA, depending on the other states you are interested in searching. Once you adjust that filter, the State filter will automatically adjust to show you the states associated with that region.
At the bottom of the green filter box, you can search for a school by typing in the college’s name. If the college still doesn’t show up, make sure you have “cleared” all the filters by selecting the “(All)” option. The “Match Category” filter is often the one to adjust to make sure it includes all categories: Very Likely, Likely, Target, Reach or Far Reach.
I see “NR” for the college’s graduation rate and for the percent of APS students who stay in college until at least their 2nd year. What is “NR?”
NR stands for “Not Reportable.” The data for college graduation rates come from the federal government’s College Scorecard. If the college’s graduation rate is not reported on the College Scorecard, the List Builder will use “NR.”
For the Percent of APS students who stay in college until at least their 2nd year, this data is Not Reportable because there are too few (or no) APS students attending the college to be able to show a number and protect students’ identity.