Hopefully by now seniors are almost done completing applications, making second campus visits, and some are still waiting for their decision letters. After 18 years of college counseling, I have seen time and time again the “senior slide” start to settle-in just after the December holidays. It is hard to fill out applications when the motivation isn’t there and procrastination takes over. I wouldn’t say it is too late for seniors but I would say to hustle, the clock is ticking!
For juniors (and many sophomores), now is the time! The PSAT is behind you and that’s when planning for college gets more interesting! I am a big advocate for planning ahead. Juniors should be narrowing their list of colleges and should be planning their first campus visits. I hear all the time “I don’t know what kind of college I want to attend so how do I know where to visit.” The best way to find out is to visit college campuses early. Make a broad list of colleges that offer majors you are interested in studying (Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to major in. However, at least have an idea of things that you might be interested in studying or things that you simply enjoy.) No one knows yourself better than YOU! Think about how far from home you want to be, weather you enjoy, sports you might want to play or watch, activities you might want to do (dance, play an instrument, sing in a choir, intramurals, etc.) There are many search engines on the Internet that provide helpful information. Some websites to check out are www.collegeboard.com, www.collegedata.com, or www.cappex.com My favorite app is College Hunch.
Some may think it is a waste of time (and money) to visit a college and find out you don’t like it. To me, that’s great! That means that you have decided on some criteria that you don’t like. Look at your broad list of colleges and remove the other schools that might have similar characteristics as the campus you visited. I encourage families to look at different kinds of colleges – small town, urban setting, college town, liberal arts, large state schools. Please, please don’t rule out a school just because you have never heard of it before. We have over 4,000 colleges in this country and there are some great colleges that many of us have never heard of but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good schools. If you look at where the professors at elite schools like Harvard and Yale went to undergraduate school, you will find that many received degrees from schools you have never heard of before and now they are professors at Ivy League schools!
So, look ahead! Your junior year will go by fast. (It is almost spring break time!) The time is NOW to plan and prepare! Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.