Preparing For Applying to College
So, the time has finally come for you to start your college search. While this can be one of the most exciting times of your life, it’s also undeniably overwhelming. Whether you have family who has already been through it or you’re a first-generation college student, navigating the college admissions process doesn’t have to be daunting!
Use Helpful Research Tools
A good starting point is one of the many college search websites to help you narrow down your options. Some examples are The College Board, College Navigator, Niche, or The Princeton Review. These websites make building a list of potential choices much easier. It’s helpful to make a list of criteria that is a “must” for you, then simply search for it!
Start attending college fairs and info sessions as soon as possible! The admissions process is less overwhelming when you feel like you have a firm grasp on what each college has to offer. These are also great opportunities to network and meet others who have the same school criteria as you do.
Am I on track?
After you have spent a good amount of time researching, ask yourself the question, “Can I get in?”. Assess why or why not you might not meet the admissions standards and make a game plan on what to improve. Whether it be raising your SAT scores or getting your GPA up, it’s important to be aware of where you stand. This is also a good time to organize your options into three categories, target schools, safety schools and reaches. Optimize your options! You need to be realistic but also don’t be afraid to work hard and reach for those more selective schools.
This is such an important step. Most people don’t receive scholarships because they didn’t look for any! There are thousands of scholarships and grants out there wanting to help students just like you. Also, keep an updated list of your accomplishments and achievements to easily pull from when you begin applying for scholarships. Every penny counts when helping to pay for school so don’t sell yourself short, apply for as many as you can.
I realize picking a major right now as a high school student is beyond stressful, but it’s important to at least narrow down your interest. If you’re the type that knows exactly what you want to do, search for colleges with the best programs for that career path. If you are completely lost on what to major in, which is totally okay, look into schools that offer a wide range of major options.
Keep Track of Deadlines
Application deadlines are different for every school. There are also different deadlines for things like early decision, honors college etc. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you mixed up the dates things were due. Staying organized through this whole process is going to be crucial. Try to get all of your applications done as soon as possible so you don’t have it lingering over you while you’re trying to enjoy your senior year!
Plan College Visits
Start visiting all of your top choices you are seriously considering! Experiencing a college campus in person will help you visualize where you can realistically see yourself, something that can’t be done solely reading information online.