How to Build a Great College List

An On Demand Mini-Course for College Counselors and Educators

With nationally-recognized college expert Dr. Steven Antonoff, and Ethan Sawyer (College Essay Guy)

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For counselors who wonder:

  • What strategies, techniques, and tactics will enable me to better construct a college list for my students?
  • How do I know if the list I've built for a student is a good one?
  • How do I deal with the "Ivy or bust" parent?
  • What are the best building-a-list resources for counselors? What resources are best for your students?
  • Do I need to know everything there is to know about colleges to construct an informed college list for a student?
  • How do I account for affordability in college list building?
  • Is there a "right" number of colleges to explore? To apply to?
  • I've essentially used the same 30 colleges for my students for many years, and it's worked. So why expand my knowledge base?
  • How do I manage parents so I can focus on the student?
  • Are there ways to go beyond the obvious factors (cost, location, size, etc.) when discussing colleges with a student? 

I’m partnering with Dr. Steven Antonoff—college counselor and nationally recognized author and speaker—to answer all these questions and more.

How to Build a Great College List

A Mini-Course for College Counselors & Educators


The Mission: crafting a great college list for each of your students.

The Method: A mini-course covering the latest list-building methods and techniques from a nationally-recognized expert.

Building expert college lists for your students is one of your most essential tasks. Learn tips and accomplish this task efficiently and effectively! 

Let's talk about the latest strategies and tactics in pulling together student needs in the academic area, social sphere, and affordability.

Spend four hours with Ethan and Dr. Steven Antonoff to craft informed, appealing, even outside-of-the-box college lists for your students.

This comprehensive, pay-what-you-can mini-course will guide you through cutting-edge approaches to list building.

What we cover:

  • The Building Blocks of College List Creation: knowledge of your student, what your student is looking for in a college, and awareness of college options
  • How to use 'Qualities that will make a college right for you' to help narrow down choices for students
  • Exploring the Axes for Comparing and Contrasting Colleges
  • The vital role of the counselor as an attitude-change agent
  • Best ways of bringing your wisdom to the college list building table
  • Ways to describe admission categories (and alternatives to "reach," and "backup")
  • Helping students know what college planning resources are best. How to separate the noise from the substance in college admission websites, books, and resources
  • Helping students determine whether a particular college will be welcoming to them
  • Gauging how generous colleges will be when it comes to financial aid
  • Learning the role of risk in list building
  • Exploring the managerial roles in list building: information, expectation, uncertainty, and reframing
  • Articulating the traps in building a college list. Examples: halo effect, not verbalizing trade-offs often enough, trying to find perfection, not recognizing how much student change to expect, feeling that you need to know everything

Narrowing the List

Learn how to help students expandand then narrowtheir college search.

Understand Affordability

We'll cover how to account for the cost of college in the college list selection process

Avoid Common Traps

We'll discuss common pitfalls counselors face when working with students on their lists

Meet Dr. Steven Antonoff

For over 35 years, Steven R. Antonoff has built his knowledge of colleges and universities. As an independent educational consultant, Dr. Antonoff has worked with more than 3,800 students and has visited (and revisited) hundreds of colleges

Dr. Antonoff is the author of two popular and long-standing college planning books: College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You and The College Finder: Choosing the School That’s Right for You. In 2019, Dr. Antonoff published A Student of Colleges: Fundamentals of Independent Educational Consulting, a text intended as a guide for the more than 5,000 professional educational consultants.

Dr. Antonoff is the founding chair of the commission on credentialing of the American Institute for Certified Educational Planners (AICEP). The commission grants the CEP designation to those who demonstrate advanced consulting skills and pass a board-certified assessment. Instrumental in the founding of the Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA) Summer Training Institute, Dr. Antonoff has served on the faculty for nearly two decades. He is past chair of the board of trustees of the IECA Foundation, the charitable arm of the professional consulting association.

Dr. Antonoff was the first recipient of the IECA Professional Achievement Award, created to recognize the member who has contributed the most to developing the profession of independent educational consulting. Presented annually, the award is now known as the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement.

Meet Ethan

Ethan Sawyer is a nationally recognized college essay expert, sought-after speaker, and author of the Amazon bestsellers College Essay Essentials and College Admission Essentials.

Each year he helps thousands of students and counselors through his online courses, workshops, articles, products, and books, and works privately with a small number of students.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Ethan holds an MFA from UC Irvine, two counseling certificates, is certified in Myers-Briggs and hypnotherapy. He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife and daughter.


Help your students and families discover (and get accepted to) tons of great schools.

$297 includes:

  • Three Hours of Live Instruction
  • Counselor List Building Resources
  • Handouts and Exercises for Students
$297 one time - Register

$74 X 4 months -

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Can’t afford this course?
We're offering pay-what-you-can spots

Access is really important to me. In fact, it’s at the heart of most everything I do and is why so many resources on my site are free.

It’s why this course is available at Pay-What-You-Can for high school college counselors in schools, CBOs, or non-profits with small budgets and few resources for professional development.

“Wait, so if our counseling department doesn’t have a budget, we can still join?”

Yep. If that’s you, click on one of the orange buttons below to request a Pay-What-You-Can spot. Don’t be shy; I’d love to have you.


Request a pay-what-you can spot

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