For many students and their families, spring is the time to make final decisions on where they are going to make a college commitments and send in deposits. For some students this is a simple decision and a joyful time, but for many students and parents, this season can be a time of stress and second-guessing.
While there will always be a certain level of uneasiness with this decision, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help ease the anxiety for everyone involved.
First and foremost, do your research when making your list of college to which you are going to apply. This is a crucial part of the process and one that requires planning and patience. Even if your student thinks he or she knows where he or she wants to apply, don’t make a hasty decision of what to put on the list. Make every effort to visit as many colleges as possible. It is beneficial to visit many kinds of schools — large and small, urban and rural, public and private. Many times, this process will cause students to significantly change their original lists.
Don’t limit yourself to the first schools that you can think of or that you saw play today on ESPN. While those can be a great choice for some students, there are hundreds more universities that could be a better fit for your child. There are more than 2,800 four-year universities in the United States. The more exposure a student can get to different kinds of schools in the search process, the better.
A great selection to read during the college search process is “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges,” by Loren Pope. This guide helps some families to lower their anxiety about the pressure to apply to only name-brand universities and helps other families to become aware of options that they might not have been aware of earlier. In addition to raising awareness about some lesser-known colleges, it provides an important perspective for readers to consider when making their college selection priority list.
Read Lincoln Gray’s article for more college visit planning advice
It’s never too early to start planning for college. For high school freshmen and sophomores the process may seem far off, but before they know it, they will be facing the end of junior year. If students haven’t prepared, there will be a lot of work ahead of them.
Don’t get me wrong – getting into college is hard work even if you’ve planned ahead – but the burden can be a lot easier toward the end if students are proactive throughout high school.
With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, the possibilities for higher education are endless. By doing ample research, students are sure to find schools that are great academic, personal, and financial fits – and with the average amount of student debt reaching $33,000 for the graduating college class of 2014, it’s important for families to do their due diligence to find institutions where students have the best chance to graduate within four years with minimal debt.
Here’s why it’s important for students and families to start planning for college as soon as possible.
Read Kat Cohen’s article for more on why students should start planning for college early
Posted in College Admissions, College Planning, Extracurricular Activities, For Students, GPA, Honors Programs, Junior Year, Recommendations, Standardized Tests, Timelines, Tools and To-Do Lists
Tagged act, classes, college, college planning, college search, extracurricular activities, GPA, honors, SAT, Standardized test, students