- How do I find a college or university that is best for me?
You need to figure out what’s really important to you. These are six questions that I ask my students and I make them rank the statements from 1-6 in order of importance. 1 being most important and 6 being least important.
I have a dream college I want to go to above all else. (the dream school)
I want to go to the best ranked school I can get into.
I’ve always dreamed of becoming something specific and my major is the most important thing.
I’m interested in the grand college experience.
Finances are key to my college experience. I will go to a school that I can afford.
I want to play a college level sport so I will go where I can play my sport as part of the competitive school team against other schools.
After doing this, start looking at colleges in those categories.
- When should I start my college prep?
I think you should start thinking about what you want to do when you’re a freshman. Not necessarily looking for a college but what you want to pursue. That would help you later decide what you want to do for college. As a freshman, you can start exploring careers, watching videos, talking to people about their jobs. Pay attention to what classes make time pass quickly, that means you probably like that subject. As a result, junior and senior year, you will be better equipped to figure out what you want to do in college.
- Should I take the SAT or ACT?
Most colleges are test optional. If you are into STEM then yes, take it. If you do well on it, then submit it. But if you know that you don’t want to do STEM, then probably not worth taking it.
- There are so many options—how do I know whether a certain career/major is right for me?
It’s sad that they make you pick a major because people change their major two or three times in college. So my advice is pick a major that you think you like based on whatever you did in high school. So if you really liked your math class, then pick a major related to that. It’s really hard to know, don’t get all caught up in that.
- When should I begin thinking of colleges to apply to?
When you are a freshman and sophomore, you should definitely start exploring different colleges. Going to college fairs and college visits can be really helpful because they learn about different types of colleges. So when they are a junior, they know what type of college they want. Once you come into junior year, you have to start really picking colleges.
- Any other advice?
My advice is as a freshman or sophomore, find activities that you are interested in. Work on making your school and community better and still enjoy doing it. I see so many juniors and seniors tell me they need to join a club so they can put it on their college application. It doesn’t work that way. If you start as an underclassman and you do it because you like it, then when you are a senior, you can show that you contributed because you liked it. That really goes a long way on your college application. Get involved in something you like.
Also, freshman and sophomores, make sure you take AP Lang! It is a very useful class that gives you a lot of good writing skills that will be useful in college.
Lastly, Naviance can be a really useful tool to aid you in finding what you like. There are nearly 10,000 five minute long videos on a variety of professions that interview people about their job.