Here are some tips for incoming seniors getting a late start on the initial college search:
- Get help from an independent educational consultant like me who specializes in college admissions and adheres to the principles of the IECA.
- Otherwise, think about what is most important to you and identify 3 or 4 personal criteria for selecting a college.
- Make sure that your criteria include something about the academic environment you want. Are you comfortable in classes of varying sizes or will you need a small class environment to be successful? Does your ideal college emphasize depth in each major, and probably an early start? Or are you looking for a school that encourages exploration and may not require you to choose a major until sophomore year? Are you a self-starter craving the bustling environment of a large university or someone who might benefit from a very supportive community focus?
- Of course, you should also have a good feel for where you want to study. That could take the form of geographic regions that would be preferable or maybe a maximum distance from home.
- Once you have your key criteria, use the filters and search function offered by the College Board to generate a list of schools. That list will probably be too long and the filters can often lead to questionable results. Review the list for reasonableness and focus on colleges where the GPA and test scores of entering students are within range of yours.
- Review the websites of schools you have identified as potential fits and narrow the list. Take a close look at how each college describes itself and its mission, as well as the features and programs that they highlight.
- Finally, try to grab a weekend or long weekend (or two) and visit some of the schools that appear to be the best candidates. Those visits will not only help to confirm whether these colleges may be a good fit, but what you learn there should help to narrow your list further.