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How do I start my college search as a junior?

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I am a junior in high school and trying to find out colleges/universities that I am interested but do not know how to start looking. Do you have any suggestions?
I know I do not like universities/colleges that feel like a city themselves. #university #college-advice #college-advice #college-admissions #collegesearch

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John’s Answer

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Dakota may I Suggest you Choose a Career before you Choose a College.

5 TIPS TO CONSIDER WHAT COLLEGE IS THE RIGHT FIT

FIRST CHOOSE A CAREER, NOT A COLLGE
The entire college selection process should really be about something else: A CAREER SELECTION PROCESS. If you have no idea what kind of career you want, don't spend thousands of dollars in tuition for an aimless journey of finding yourself in college. Before you choose the ideal college option, it is sometimes important to narrow your area of interest and understand what it is you are truly hoping to gain out of attending a college that has a variety of subjects to choose from. Better understanding of your long-term career objectives and majors that interest you most will certainly help to guide you towards a college that provides programs that are fitting for your desired lifestyle and budget.

• Don't assume that a traditional four-year university experience is always the best choice.
• Consider the pros and cons of alternatives.

RESEARCH MAJORS
Take a good look at your list of careers and make notes next to each career about which college major (or majors) will best prepare you for those careers. It's likely that your careers have certain elements in common, so there may be fewer majors on your list than you might expect. In any case, the goal is to understand the academic path that will take you to those careers on your list.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
Take time to note your strengths and weaknesses too when it comes to grasping new learning material to help with figuring out whether you are best-suited in a large university, community college or even at home taking online courses. You can compare college programs and the type of education that each school has to offer by contacting the college directly and by accessing the official website of the school to find full educational schedules and curriculum information. It is also possible to compare colleges and schools that appeal to you by scheduling a meeting with a guidance counselor from the school or even by visiting the college you are interested in.

COMMUNITY COLLGE VS. UNIVERSITIES
When high school seniors are deciding how to pursue higher education, they may not initially think of community colleges. But these schools shouldn't be overlooked. Turns out, there are plenty of community college benefits, and attending one can be an advantage for students before they move on to a four-year university. So, if your college applications are looming, here are four key reasons to put community colleges versus universities on your academic radar:

• Cost: Community colleges are usually less expensive;
• Flexibility: Class schedules can be more flexible;
• Support: Students often receive more support during their transition from high school; and
• Career opportunities: Students can explore their interests and enter niche job markets.

COMPARING RELEVANT COLLEGES
Once you have determined the type of college you would like to invest your time in, you can compare all the available colleges that offer similar educational programs. Although it is not entirely necessary to settle on a full plan when you first enroll in a school, you can eliminate schools and colleges who have any of the educations programs that are not fully beneficial to you and the area of study you're interested in.

• Good college reputation;
• College graduates get better jobs;
• They were offered a financial assistance; and
• The costs of attending

Avoid these Common Mistakes Dakota

John recommends the following next steps:

  • Don't Rush the Process – Waiting until the last minute or just “falling into a college” is never a good idea.
  • Don't Necessarily Follow the Crowd – You need to remember to make the best decisions for yourself.
  • Don't Rely on Reputation – Just because it’s a highly-ranked prestigious school doesn't mean it’s the right school for you.
  • Location, location, location – Remember out of state schools are going cost more.
  • Your Choice – Letting your parents decide which college is right for you is not healthy.
Thank You Kristin. “Even if you just change one life, you’ve changed the world forever.” – Mike Satterfield John Frick Translate
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Rita’s Answer

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You can start your college search on-line at Niche. I have used it for both high school and college searches for my two sons. You don't need to know what you are going to do with the rest of your life necessarily before selecting a college. But you do need to make sure you can afford the selection and the campus is right for you (big or small) so you can feel comfortable in your choice.
Check it out at https://www.niche.com/colleges

Rita recommends the following next steps:

  • Recommend visiting the campus before committing
  • Talk about how you are going to pay for your education
  • Look into grants and scholarships to help you pay for it
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Ayanna’s Answer

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I'd suggest starting with virtual tours of each school you're interested in. Pick locations that interest you and schools that specialize in your field. Begin a list of pros and cons for each school and begin to narrow your list down to your top 5 (or 7 or 10). Submit inquiries to each school and begin the application process from there. Good luck to you!
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Katelyn’s Answer

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My best advice is to go and tour the universities that interest you. Seeing them in person is so much different than what you see online. For me I looked to see which colleges had the best programs for the major I was interested in. Then I went to the open houses of those universities. When I went and toured the universities I was interested in, it was easy for me to narrow down to the university I wanted to attend. I fell in love with the way my school made me feel when I toured it.
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Devin’s Answer

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My recommendation would be to start by thinking about a few key things before starting your search:
- What are your interests? What do you like to do?
- Is there a major you're interested in that leads to a career you would enjoy?
- Would you prefer to be close to home for university or move further away?
- Do you like large student bodies and campuses or prefer a smaller, more intimate environment?

The answers to these questions might help you narrow down the large scope of colleges and universities available so you can see what college fits your wants and needs. After you have those answers, start searching colleges that have your interests/possible majors, your preferred location, and student body size. This could help you create a list of where to apply and a nice place to start. Good luck and hope this helps!
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Khanh’s Answer

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I echo all the previous comments. I also would like to add, if possible, talk to a senior at a college you're interested in. You will get a better sense of reality and culture of the college such as Greek life, dormitory options, and if the school is a target recruiting spot for any specific company. Hope that helps!
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Richard’s Answer

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You should go to the college where you feel you would be the best fit. It is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of all potential schools. You should weigh these factors based on how important they are to you. Make sure to look into each college with an open mind and without any bias. For example, although many people at certain universities may not share your hobbies, you will surely be able to find different groups of students who share the same values and passions as you do. It's also good to spend time with different types of people who can teach you lessons you would not learn being around those who you are most comfortable with.

Explore different websites, set up phone calls with current students, and try to visit the campus if you can.
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Karen’s Answer

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Hi Dakota,

BCC's Bridge to College programs allows high school seniors to take one FREE course at BCC. This is a great way to test the waters and see what you like.
At BCC you will find a small classroom setting where faculty members will know you by your first name as well as having dedicated advisors.
You might spend your junior or senior years at BCC taking classes in person or online.

Below is the link to the program I mentioned. -Karen R.L.
https://www.berkshirecc.edu/admission-and-aid/early-college.php
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Riley’s Answer

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The first step in this process is to decide where you want to be, in Massachusetts or elsewhere? Once you have made this decision, you can start just googling things like, "small college Massachusetts," and this will be a quick way to be introduced to a lot of options. If you need a little more guidance, you could always go to your school guidance counselor or a trusted teacher and ask them for help on this journey and I'm sure they would be willing to do some research with you!
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Christina’s Answer

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There's lots to consider when planning your post-high school education! I would suggest starting with self reflection. What kind of environment would you thrive in? What are your goals for higher education? What do you want to learn, achieve, accomplish?

- what fields you may want to study (and know that this might change); academic majors and extracurricular opportunities like clubs and sports
- what kinds of environments you prefer (a big state school vs. a small liberal arts school; big city vs. suburban vs. rural)
- whether you will live at home or on campus, and whether you want to stay close to home or go farther away
- financial aid and scholarships
- overall culture and feel of a school
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Paul’s Answer

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My daughter found the College Navigator (https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/) helpful during her search. You can start somewhat generic and then get more specific to narrow things down. Be sure to consider cost when choosing a school.
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Cindie’s Answer

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Hi Dakota. I'm excited about this time of your life...so much to look forward to.

I did a quick Google search and this article, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/how-to-find-your-college-fit/quick-guide-starting-your-college-search, laid out some great steps:

1. Talk to your family. Open up a discussion. Talk to your family about your interests and goals. Ask them about their experience with college, if any, and find out what kind of support they can give you. If there are money concerns, it’s best to know now.
2. Make a wish list. What do you want in a college? Make a list that includes everything from possible majors to location to extracurricular activities. Even if it doesn’t seem important, get it down — this exercise will help you get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
3. Get advice. Talk to a college counselor or your principal about starting your college search. Then talk to people who have been to college — kids from your high school, teachers and relatives — about what college is really like and how they found theirs.
4. Read your mail. Your mailbox and in-box might already be filled with college brochures and emails. If so, browse through them; you may find colleges you haven’t thought of. If you aren’t getting college mail yet, visit college websites and sign up for information.
5. Go to college fairs. You can get a lot of information about different colleges in one place at a college fair. You’ll meet college representatives who can talk to you and answer questions about their colleges, and you can sign up for college mailing lists. Check out the College Fair Checklist https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/how-to-find-your-college-fit/college-fair-checklist).
6. Explore online. A visit to a college’s website can give you an idea of what student life and classes are like. You can take virtual campus tours (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/campus-visit-guide/10-ways-to-learn-about-colleges-online), check out classes and even contact admission officers and current students with questions.
7. Visit a campus. Get a taste of college life by visiting a nearby college. You can explore the campus, talk to college students and get a better sense of what you do and don’t want in a college. You’ll also start to see how college is different from high school. Learn more about campus visits (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/campus-visit-guide).
8. Put it all together. Use all of the information you’ve gathered to make a list of the colleges you’re interested in. Don’t limit yourself. You can use this list to get a better idea of what’s important to you in a college and where you want to go.

I hope this gets you going on your search and that you find the right college. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and, of course, great success in school.
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