Congratulations! You have completed your junior year of high school. You are now a senior! You only have one year to go in high school and then you’ll be off to college. I’m sure you are very excited and want to relax and celebrate all summer. Relax and enjoy, but keep your eye on the prize – college.
In my seven part series, I will provide tips that rising seniors can do this summer to get ahead of the college admissions game. Many students will procrastinate when it comes to college admissions and won’t start the process until September when they are back in school. I admit it – I was one of those students back when I was applying to college. I can tell you from experience that senior year is going to be busy! Why not take some of the pressure away by chipping away at the college admissions process during the summer when you have some free time? College is a huge investment in time and money and you don’t want to leave your fate to your rushed process. Take your time in the college admissions process so you can be confident you’re making the right decisions.
Now for the first tip – Build And Narrow Your College List.
Have you started building your college list? Don’t worry if you have not. You’re not alone. Many rising seniors have not really built a college list yet. Sure, there are colleges on the list in their head that are local colleges, the college everyone wants to attend or the college that wins a lot of games. But, that’s not the way to choose a college. You need to really research.
The first thing to do when researching colleges is to get to know yourself and your preferences. What do you want or not want in a college? What do you need and don’t need in a college? Check out my previous post about building your college list for the questions you should ask yourself while building your college list.
After you get to know yourself, build your BIG list of colleges. The BIG list will meet all of your criteria – size, location, majors, etc. You can start researching for this big list by using one of the following college search tools:
You will enter your preferences for college into one of the search engines and it will give you a list of colleges to consider. Most likely, especially if you’re not very specific about location, the search engines will give you a large list of colleges to consider. That’s okay. It’s now time for you to further investigate the colleges.
Share the list with your counselor, teachers, parents and others that you trust, especially if they are knowable about college. Ask for their thoughts and feedback. You should also ask them if there is a college that is not on the list, but should.
Visit the college websites to get further information. Visit not only the main pages of the website, but also Admissions, Majors and Student Activities. Another important place to visit is the Financial Aid page and the Net Price Calculator. The Net Price Calculator will allow you to enter your personal information (grades, test scores, income, etc.) and it will tell you the approximate financial aid you will receive if you attend that particular college. Make sure to share the financial information with your parents and get their thoughts on what the family is willing and able to pay to help you attend college.
Keep notes throughout your research about everything you find. Also, as you start having questions that the websites cannot answer, reach out to the colleges and ask. The Admissions Offices are great places to start because Admission Counselors are trained in most things about their college.
Lastly, as the list gets smaller and smaller, try to visit the colleges that are still on the list, if you haven’t already. College websites are marketing tools that are meant to make you want to attend that particular school. The only way to really know if the college is for you is to visit.
Building your list and narrowing it down is not something that will happen overnight. There is a reason I made it the first tip – it’s going to take some time to narrow it down to the colleges you will ultimately send an application. Your final list will have approximately seven to ten colleges. So, don’t rush building and narrowing down your list, but don’t wait to start until the fall.
Join me next time when I share information about social media and college admissions.