Determining Which Colleges to Apply To

Tabitha writes:
I read about you in the magazine “Private Colleges and Universities” that I received in the mail.
I am a junior in high school at the moment and I am totally lost when it comes to figuring out
what colleges I want to apply to. How do I start? I’m getting a lot of pressure to develop a list
and I am totally clueless!

The Career Doctor responds:
The junior year is perhaps the
most critical year in high school — at least in terms of implications for your future.
It’s during the junior year that you’re often taking the tough courseload prepping for the SATs thinking about careers and deciding about attending college –
while also developing an initial list of colleges that interest you.
The good news? You have a year to really contemplate some of the issues I’ll
discuss here. The college admissions process begins in earnest for you about this
time next year.
So here you are with hundreds and hundreds of college possibilities out there. How
can you narrow the list? One of the best resources is your high school’s guidance counselor. I know that in some public high schools these folks are way overworked
and have way too many advisees to know each one — thus it is your job to make
sure your guidance counselor knows who you are and what your interests are. Later
it will be important that he/she knows which of your college choices are your favorites
in case one of the colleges calls to inquire about you.
But don’t stop there. Talk with your family friends and neighbors. Find out where
adults you respect went to college. Go to the library and start looking through the
various college guide books such as The Fiske Guide to Colleges.
(Find more books in our Teen College Books.)
Next go online to one (or more) of the many college-choice Websites and
search for college by programs type size and location…or just browse through the lists.
(Find more college-related sites in our College
Planning Resources for Teens
.) Finally watch for college fairs and visits from colleges
at your high school — and attend as many of those as you need.
At this stage in the game don’t rule out any college based on cost. Many private
colleges have a high cost but counter those costs
with attractive scholarships and aid packages to attract the better students. The ideal
scenario would be to have a list of 20 or so by the end of the year … then narrow it down
some more and visit that smaller list over the spring and summer.
Need more specifics about the process? Read my article
a College that’s Right for You
published on Quintessential Careers.
You can also find more tips and suggestions in my
Admissions Do’s and Don’ts
published on Quintessential Careers.
Finally be sure to check out our work related to college admissions:
Answers to Common
College Admissions Questions
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