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Building a University List

Practice with this

The terms we use to categorize schools that you will be applying to:


Likely School

Your grades, test scores, and/or strength of schedule exceed the requirements on the school's profile. These are schools you would be happy attending, even if they are not the most famous.  Some call this a ‘safety’ school but any school you apply to should be one that is a good fit and one that you would be happy to attend.


Target/Match School

Your grades, test scores, and/or strength of schedule meet the school's profile requirements. These are schools you would be happy attending, even if they are not the most famous.  There is a good chance of being accepted but not guaranteed.


Reach School

Your grades, test scores, and/or strength of schedule are a bit on the low side when you look at the school's profile. The top Universities are always considered reach schools.  With schools in this category being declined would not be surprising, but your list should have a balance of Likely, Match and Reach schools.


Dream School

These are the schools with famously low rates of acceptance.  The type of schools that reject even the most highly qualified and amazing students.  It’s great to have a dream, but it’s better to have a plan with a good mix of Likely, Match and Reach schools.


Other terms that can be helpful:


Associate Degree

Completion of an academic program designed to be completed in 2 years.


Bachelor's Degree (BA or BS)

An academic degree which usually takes four years to earn and is awarded by a college or university.


Best Fit University

School chosen based on student's personal academic, social, financial and future goals. There is no school that is best for all students. Each student is unique and must do their own research, looking beyond the big name schools or the ones friends are excited about.


Campus Visit/Tour

A service by the college admissions office for prospective students to visit and get a first-hand look at campus life. 



Recognition provided to a student for completion of a short-term vocational or career training program.


College List

A list of schools that match a student's intellectual, personal, social, emotional and financial goals. This list is created by the student, and might start big, but will end up at around 10 schools the student will actually apply to.


Community/Junior College

Primarily two-year institutions providing higher education and lower-level courses, granting certificates, diplomas and associate's degrees. After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a four-year institution in order to complete a bachelor's degree.



Reward for the successful completion of a prescribed program of study, similar to a diploma for college.


Freshman Profile

An overview of the academic achievement of recently admitted students to a particular university. This information can often be found on the university's website for prospective students.


Institute of Technology

A school that specializes in subjects such as engineering, physics, chemistry, and math.


Liberal Arts

Studies in subject areas that provide general knowledge (as opposed to technical knowledge); includes history, languages, literature, philosophy, and social sciences.


Maia Learning

The platform Next Level Application uses for career and university research, building college lists, and as a working file for application documents.

Master's Degree (MA)

A graduate degree typically requiring two or three years of study beyond a bachelor's degree; an academic degree higher than a bachelor's but lower than a doctorate. (Not now)


Private Institution

This is a college or university funded by private sources without any control by a government agency.


Public Institution

A college or university that receives public funding, primarily from a local, state, or national government that oversees and regulates the school's operations.


Trade School

A school that specializes in career readiness in fields such as hairdressing, cosmetology, and auto mechanics.



A college student who is in the process of completing a four-year educational program leading to a Bachelor's Degree.



An institution of higher learning, often referred to as a "four-year" institution, which grants the bachelor's degree in liberal arts, science, or both.

More questions?  Let us help.  Meet with a counselor or email us at  Our counselors are available to help you feel more confident about the university application process.

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