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When should I start searching for colleges?

I am a junior in high school, and feel like I should maybe start searching, but I'm not completely sure. would like some other opinions.

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DaSabria’s Answer

Hello there,

Seize the moment, it's your time to shine! Taking initiative in your junior year is a stepping stone towards success and a relaxed senior year. This is the perfect time to explore colleges that align with your interests, and then whittle down the list to your top choices. Once you've done that, get a head start by familiarizing yourself with their application deadlines and requirements. Also, consider what additional achievements might give your application that extra sparkle.

I understand that this can feel like a thrilling roller coaster ride, but remember, it's all part of your journey. You hold the reins to steer this journey in the direction you desire. I hope this advice serves you well. Best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Madeline
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Arabhis’s Answer

Hi Madeline, I know it can be a little tricky knowing when and where to start, so I wrote a mini-guide. Truly hope this helps!

For JUNIOR YEAR(11th Grade): Be proactive in your college search.

#1) Look at your after school activities, make sure you are involved in one or two activities that can add to your applications and make you a stronger candidate.
#2) Make sure your grades are up to par, and you have balance in your studying and self-care days- take breaks! (getting ready for college can be a lot to manage, but you got this!)
#3) Check in frequently with your career/college counselor or guidance counselor. Ask questions, and work with them to keep you on track with your goals
#4) Going into Senior Year, have an idea of the college you want to early apply to, make note of all deadline for each University or college & stay organized

For SENIOR YEAR(12th Grade): Become a little more aggressive in the college application journey.

***Side Note: Visit Hercampus.com (they share lot’s of college advice!)

#1) The Summer before you start Senior Year, research colleges that stand out to you and have the majors and programs that line up with your future career goals. Then narrow down your list of top 10-15 colleges. If you are already in your senior year, that’s fine, just get on this asap! The early bird gets the worm. 10 of those colleges are your top choices, the other 5 colleges from that same list are just backups in case you don’t get into your top choices. Create document to track all deadlines and application due dates for each of the colleges. The key is to stay organized!
#2) Meet with your guidance counselor or career/college counselor at least once a month to keep yourself focused and accountable to application goals. Ask them for advice, and any other pressing questions around the application process.
#3 Keep track of all of your school accomplishments, and anything you have created or achieved in your extra curricular activities. Start Collecting a list of things you’ve done throughout High School, and your proudest moments and accomplishments. This can later be used in your college essay.
Make a list of 3-5 Colleges you want to tour. Then plan a trip with friends, or ask if your school offers college tour trips. This will help you decide which college you want to go to.

Here is a great place to start in researching colleges: First start with each college's official website. Then go to the following website to review the number regarding cost of tuition, class sizes, location/area and other key information. https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

Last thing, remember to have fun and enjoy High School. Make memories with your friends to look back on. Maybe you and your friends or classmates can create a college application challenge? Why not?!

Anyways, you can do this Madeline, so excited for you!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is amazing! I really needed it. Madeline
Thank you comment icon You are so welcome @Madeline! Wishing you the very best in your future endeavors 🤗 Arabhis Nicholson
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Paul’s Answer

I would start looking at them now.

It is never too early to log into a college and university website to check out their programs, admissions, financial aid and scholarships, and other campus activities.
Thank you comment icon I really appreciate your thoughts, thank you. Madeline
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Dino’s Answer

Hello Madeline, it's wonderful to hear from you. The optimal time to commence the search for a school is a top-tier question, one that I often pondered during my tenure as a counselor. This query is typically the responsibility of a counselor, forming a crucial part of their guidance curriculum. It's one of the many benefits of having a career guidance system that evolves with the student.

From the early school years, we begin with introducing community helpers. As students progress to high school, we invite parents from various professional backgrounds to share their career experiences. We incorporate a comprehensive battery of career assessment tests into our program, giving our students a broad view of potential career paths.

We encourage our students to maintain their grades, as this could open up more opportunities for them at larger universities, especially for those seeking scholarships. We instill in them the importance of their grades and experiences and encourage them to explore different schools during career exploration events. During these events, we invite various colleges and universities to present a range of programs catered to our students' needs, especially those interested in Sciences, Arts and Design, Engineering, Business, and Management, among others.

We offer a variety of tracks to our students, enhancing their awareness of the career options available to them. We then discuss their career assessment results, helping them understand their potential paths. Schools present their programs and scholarship opportunities to deserving students during their junior years. This is the ideal time to explore different schools, as it's also when schools begin accepting applications from prospective students.

Providing such a program equips our students to make informed career decisions. This approach helps them become not just successful students, but successful individuals in their chosen career paths.

Dino recommends the following next steps:

Always seek the assistance of your career counselor in your school. They are just waiting for you.
Attend career programs in your school or community.
Visit colleges or universities admission office and ask their requirements for incoming students during your junior years.
Monitor your grades and maintain your GPA during your high school. Grades are important in your college or university application. The higher your GPA the better.
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Shiri’s Answer

Hi Madeline,

It's a great idea to kick-start your college search right away. By giving yourself plenty of time, you'll be able to dive deep into your options and pinpoint the ones that truly catch your interest. Look out for colleges that align with your budget or offer scholarships, boast strong programs in your prospective major, and more. These are the kind of places you'll want to explore further. Once you've got a clear idea of where you'd like to apply, you can begin to familiarize yourself with scholarship and application prerequisites, such as GPA, SAT, ACT, and letters of recommendation. It's an exciting journey ahead, and starting early will give you a head start!
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Adriana’s Answer

What a fabulous time to begin your search!
This advice is more about the testing that a college might require and some other gems. Hopefully, this will help you on your journey to find the right college.

First, enjoy the moment.
Summer.
During the summer try and visit colleges/universities in your area. When you visit, remember to ask for a fee waiver. This allows you to apply to the school without paying the application fee. If you don't know, you must pay an application fee for each school you apply to. If you do NOT get in, there is no refund! I know, that hurts. But, I digress. Most times if you visit the school, they are more than happy to provide you with a code to waive the application fee. Just remember to mention you are a Junior so the code is valid when you apply as a senior. When you become a Senior and perhaps visit other schools continue to ask.
Fall.
As a Junior, you do have some time but first and foremost remember to keep your grades up. Make that appointment with your guidance counselor to look at various options if you want to go to college/university or trade school. You have so many options depending on what you are interested in.
Also, if you haven't already sign-up for the PSAT. This test is in October. You may have been taking this standardized exam before your junior year however, it is during your Junior year when this exam enables you to be eligible, if you qualify, for different scholarship programs.
Though many schools are test-optional, meaning, they do not require SAT or ACT scores, if you are going to apply to competitive programs like nursing or STEM programs, many of them still require SAT or ACT scores.
Try and take an exam at least twice...once at the end of your Junior year and once at the beginning of your Senior year. I would encourage you if you are taking the SAT, take the ACT, or visa versa. Use the highest score on either test when you apply to schools.
Winter.
Keep your grades up.
Spring
Meet up with your guidance counselor again. This time ask about scholarship opportunities that they may be able to help you with. Applying early is very important.
Summer
Your personal essay. If you haven't written one, do it during the summer.
Take your time to practice writing a personal essay about yourself. Talk about all the great things that make you an asset to the schools you are interested in.
Senior YEAR!
Continue to keep up your grades along with any other extracurricular activities you might be in.
Keep a list of important dates so you will not forget any deadlines.

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask.
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Nicolas’s Answer

Definitely start searching now as it is too difficult to procrastinate and still be able to make an informed decision that is worth your time. If you think it is a daunting task now if you wait any longer it might not be possible. Know Universities inside & out and actually take the time to read through websites and then request information. Do you want to be really involved in the University programs? If so then take initiative and send emails to people who can help you get involved.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective. Madeline
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