How do you grade a college list?

    College Kickstart assigns a list grade based on the mix of schools in a student’s list.  Our overarching objective is to promote the importance of a balanced list, and a higher list grade indicates a more balanced list.  

    There are three steps to the grading process:

    1. Categorize schools into likelies, targets, reaches, and unlikelies, based on the school's selectivity and the student's academic performance relative to each school's entering class. 
      > For details, refer to this article: What's the difference between likely, target, reach and unlikely schools?
    2. Compare the resulting mix of schools to our reference standard explained below. 
    3. Assign a list grade based on this assessment.  

    College Kickstart considers the reference standard for a balanced list to be as follows:

    • 2-4 Likelies
    • 3-5 Targets
    • 2-6 Reaches
    • 0 Unlikelies

    The grading system checks that a student's list meets a minimum number of likelies, targets and reaches , but also penalizes lists with too many schools.  The deductions will increase as the overages become more pronounced. Overage penalties will be harsher for unlikelies in the mix, and lighter for likelies and targets.  

    This approach allows us to cover a wide range of “ideal list” mixes to satisfy most needs while considering list size as part of the grading.  

    As always, remember that the list grade is NOT an indicator of how competitive an applicant is to the institutions on their list, but rather an assessment of how well balanced a list is.  

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