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When should I start looking at colleges to consider?

I'm a sophomore, and I often get the question, what college are you planning to attend? But to be honest, I haven't really looked into that.

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Robert’s Answer

Hey Cadence!

So it looks like the question has been answered for the most part by others but here are my two cents.

You should start looking now. The sooner the better. You want to give yourself as many options as possible. It can get pretty hectic during junior/senior year depending on the classes you're taking and you don't want to be in senior year frantically doing last minute research into colleges. I would advise you to make a list of any colleges you want to go to or show interest towards. Do some research on them and over the course of a few months, slowly narrow down that list.

I'm going to go on a bit of a tangent but make sure when researching colleges to take into account finances, location, and educational requirements. I would argue that half the difficulty of college has to do with finances. You want to exit college with the least amount of debt as possible. If you decide to go to a college that doesn't give a big enough financial package, you might end up having to take a few jobs which in turn might hinder your performance in classes. This is even more important if you're out of state. Typically, out of state students end up paying more not to mention you have less resources to work with since your family most likely isn't going to be moving with you. Finally, make sure you know the colleges' educational requirements and try to exceed them. Admission officers have to go through thousands of applications and you want to stand out from your peers.

Good luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Cadence
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Nadine’s Answer

Hi Cadence,

Kudos to you for starting to think about it now. I agree with quintavius that the best time to start is now. It can be an overwhelming process and difficult to squeeze in campus tours into your schedule but take it in little chunks and hopefully you'll actually find it to be a fun experience.

Start by doing some research. If you have an idea of what you'd like to study, definitely factor that into your research. If you're unsure, look for schools with strong liberal arts programs. Consider what area/geography you'd like to be in.

Many schools have online tours now which can give you a feel for the campus. Many universities visit high schools which will give you an opportunity to talk to the representative, get an idea of their acceptance criteria and gather some brochures.

Once you've narrowed it down a bit, you can tour the campuses in person. You'd set up your tour appointment through the admissions office. I'd recommend touring a small, medium and large sized school to get a feel for what feels right to you. You can then target your search even further based on that.

Many schools let prospective students stay overnight in a dorm room with current students - something to keep in mind if you'd be interested in that.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck to you! Remember to enjoy the process!!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Nadine! Cadence
Thank you comment icon You're so very welcome! Best of luck to you! Nadine Cound
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Connor’s Answer

If you have the time and availability, it is best to start as soon as possible. The more research you can do now the more stress you will save yourself from having later on. In visiting universities, meeting students, learning about opportunities it will help you better determine what you are interested in, and even better yet, what you are not interested in. You can then create a list of items you want to prioritize in selecting a school around what is most important to you. Would you like a small school or big school, close to home or farther away, near a large city or smaller town, what price range best suites you, does the school offer the major you are interested in, would you qualify for any specific scholarships, etc... A school counselor may be able to help you in this, but you are the one who ultimately makes this decision so the more research you do the more informed your decision will be. Good luck, you will make the right decision!
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Daniel’s Answer

Great question Cadence!

I would start looking for colleges in your junior year. Also, I would consider getting your basics at a community college. This will not only save you money but will give you additional time to decide or get accepted into the college of your choice. Also, I would highly encourage you if possible to meet with current students at the colleges you are considering. This will give you true insight into the experience. I would not rely on those "college ranking publications" for guidance.

Good luck on the journey!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Cadence
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quintavius’s Answer

NOW is the perfect time to start doing your research. You do not want to wait the last minute or your senior year to start reaching out to schools. The earlier is the better. Many teachers will tell you to start your freshman year looking into schools it will give you a better chance of being accepted. If a school see you are interested early on, it will show that you are serious about your future.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Cadence
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Baljit’s Answer

Hi Cadence,
I would suggest that you start narrowing down your colleges list.

Baljit recommends the following next steps:

decide where you want to go-local or distant. There might even be remote learning at the college of choice.
find out what course you want to do at the school. There are different types of course for the same subject.
look into the cost of attending the college. Talk to admissions. There is also a college calculator- https://www.calculator.net/college-cost-calculator.html
check out housing.
find out if you are on track with the classes that you are taking (AP classes being important too) with your career advisor.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective. Cadence
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