Factors to Consider When Applying to College

Hey everyone, this is Christian Feliciano, a College Apps Academy Instructor at Reality Changers, and I am happy to share with you all Factors to Consider When Applying to College.

I considered two factors when creating my college list during my senior year of high school. However, in retrospect (after my college experience), there were two additional factors I wish I had considered. I’ve included all four factors in this list for you.


When I developed my college list, I prioritized the average admitted student profile of universities. As a high school senior, I considered myself a moderately above average applicant—my weighted GPA hovered around 4.25, I passed my AP exams with 4s and 5s, but only had an SAT score of 1780 (out of 2400) and only a few extracurricular activities. With my “student profile” in mind, I had to look at a university’s admission rate and their average student profiles to see which schools would be a reach school (grades and test scores of admitted students higher than mine), a 50/50 school (grades and test scores of admitted students similar to mine), and a safety school (my grades and test scores higher than admitted students).

As a result, my college application list developed as follows:

  • Reach: UCLA, UC Berkeley
  • 50/50: UC San Diego
  • Safety: UC Davis, UC Irvine, San Diego State University


After receiving college acceptances, I kept location in mind during my decision-making process. Now, when I say location, I don’t mean geographical highlights like having a beach nearby. For me, location was important because I needed to be far away enough from home and outside my comfort zone, but close enough to come back at a moment’s notice if my family needed me when the going gets tough. As a student hailing from Paradise Hills in San Diego, that meant a school like San Diego State University was too close to home. However, that meant schools like UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Davis were out of the picture for me.

This left me with two colleges to choose from after receiving their acceptances:

  • UC San Diego and UC Irvine

UC Irvine was only an hour and a half away from home, but something told me that even that distance was too far for me to be disconnected from my family. With this in mind, I had to take UC Irvine off my college choices.

UC San Diego in La Jolla (about a 35 minute drive from my neighborhood) felt far enough away from home for me to feel like my family wasn’t just “down the street from me,” but close enough for me to come back in times of family crisis. 

The above two factors helped me narrow down my options, eventually submitting my Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to UC San Diego and later receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from the university.

However, there are two other factors I wish I would have kept in mind during my college application process: Retention Rate and Graduation Rate.


Something I got hit hard with when entering college not only as a first-year student, but as a first-generation low-income student was the difficulty of navigating the transition into higher education. To put it simply, I struggled severely and barely made it through my first-year of college in both the academic and socioemotional sense. 

This is important for me to bring up because many students face different and unique challenges during their first year of college. What really grounded me during my first year were academic support programs and mentorship-based communities that helped me find my way during college. 

Interestingly enough, something I have found after going through the process of higher education is that retention rate (specifically from first-year to second year) of undergraduates usually reflects a university’s commitment to retaining their students. How exactly is this reflected? In my experience, it is through their initiatives to address the needs of first-year students as they transition into university (usually through academic support programs and mentorship-based communities).

Shoutout to OASIS and the Summer Bridge Program at UC San Diego.


Similar to how a university’s retention rate reflects their commitment to retaining their students, I firmly believe a university’s graduation rate reflects an institution’s commitment to graduating their students as well. College for me was where I experienced holistic growth—personal, professional, academic, and even socio-emotional. These are all due to the initiatives I sought out throughout my time as an undergraduate (specifically through student support service programs like OASIS Summer Bridge and the NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program) to enhance my overall experience in college. Had these not been offered to me throughout my time in college, I would not have been motivated to graduate for any reason other than to obtain a degree from an accredited university.

Such initiatives are what I believe to be the reflection of a university’s commitment to graduate their students – that which stems from the underlying goal of enhancing and empowering the undergraduate experience towards graduation.

Hope you find these tips helpful during your journey!




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