Start thinking about college NOW.
Everyone tells you to do it, but barely anyone does.
Sure, preparing for the ACT is a good first step, but there is more to be done to be prepared.
It’s amazing how many seniors still aren’t quite sure which colleges they are applying to, if they’re doing early decision, or what early decision even is.
These are all important questions that you do not want to be answering a month before your application is due.
Many juniors favorite phrase is, “I’m too busy”
Well I can assure you, you’re not too busy for this.
All those things that you think you are too busy with like grades, ACT prep, and sports will not matter unless you figure out what your goal is after high school.
While this may seem like a scary and unreasonable task, it’s actually pretty easy and maybe even a little bit fun.
Start off by just doing what you’re best at, surfing the Internet. Maybe take a couple online quizzes that will match you to some colleges.
Once you get a few schools in mind the next step is to search their websites. This may seem overwhelming because of the sheer amount of information out there, but it doesn’t have to be.
Almost every college website has a section for perspective students that will give you all the information you need to know if it’s the right school for you.
If you have a particular dream school in mind, make sure you’re meeting all the requirements for the program you want to go into.
Sure, a 36 on the ACT would be awesome. But, what if your dream school required four years of science and you only took three?
Do you really want that to be the reason you don’t get in?
Once you’ve done some research and looked at schools you’re interested in, make sure your selections are reasonable.
It’s sad to see seniors who are just realizing that a 3.0 GPA is just not going to cut it for U of M, and that they have no back up options. Always have back up options!
A dream school is great, but if you don’t get in you don’t want to be stuck at home for the next four years while your friends are off living the college dream. Find a second, third, fourth, and even fifth choice.
Finally, talk to your parents about how your family will be paying for college. If it’s all going to be on you, you may need to reconfigure where you can exactly afford to go.
It may not be the most fun conversation, but it sure is better to have this conversation before you get your heart set on a school that you won’t be able to pay for than after.
That being said, there are always scholarships to look into, which can start in your junior year! So if money is a big consideration for your family, maybe get a head start on the scholarship game before you start your senior year.
Websites like fastweb.com allow for constant email updates on scholarships you are applicable for with very little time investment.
While all these suggestions may seem overwhelming, getting a head start will only help to prevent stress down the road.
All things considered, putting aside a couple hours per month to allocate to college planning your junior year will pay huge dividends when you’re getting ready to send in your apps a year from now.
Good luck juniors!