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When should I start thinking about what colleges to apply to?

Is it better to get started now and search around or wait until I know more about who I want to be and my limitations when I'm older?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Andrew’s Answer

Hello Ian,

Great question! It is never too early to start thinking about what factors will inform your decision of where to go to college. Unless you're looking to get into a heavily specialized area which would require a specific school or program, you will be able to pursue most typical college degrees just about anywhere.

Right now, when you're not entirely sure what you want to major in or what you will end up doing, think about other things that are going to be important questions. Do you want to live on campus or commute from home? Do you want to go to school in a specific region or state? Do you want to aim high academically and look into more prestigious institutions? What are potentially going to be your financial constraints? These and many other questions can help with your decision-making process as you head towards college.

Above all, as you work on making a decision, keep in mind that you may not have all the answers, especially right now but even as you get closer to time to make your decision. And that is totally okay, because regardless of where you end up and what decision gets made, you have the ability to make the best of where you are, no matter where you are. Hope this helps!
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Tracy’s Answer

Hello Ian,

It's a pleasure to connect with you, and I'm delighted to lend a helping hand. Here's a piece of advice that could be a game-changer for you: start by identifying your strengths and passions. Consider what truly sparks your interest or what you're eager to delve deeper into. High school is the perfect time to start this exploration.

Additionally, while you're in college, it's an excellent opportunity to contemplate your future career path. Drawing from my personal experience, I was only just beginning to shape my life's direction during my college years. So, remember, you're at the right stage to start planning your life's journey.

Take the lead now, but remember, it's not a race. Allow yourself the time you need, and you'll gradually see the fruits of your efforts. I genuinely hope this advice proves beneficial for you.
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Maureen’s Answer

Don't hesitate, the high school journey is a swift one, so seize the moment and get going!

Begin by engaging with your high school guidance counselor. Allow them to understand you better so they can suggest classes that align with your career aspirations and bolster your chances of college acceptance. A strong relationship with your counselor can also lead to personalized college recommendations. Don't shy away from proposing colleges that pique your interest and ask for their opinion on whether it's a suitable match for you.

Then, commit to excelling in your classes to maintain a high GPA and cultivate a good study routine. Mastering effective study techniques is a crucial skill for your college journey.

In addition, make sure to allocate time for extracurricular activities to enrich your school transcript. These activities need not be mundane or tedious. Pursue what intrigues you, have fun, make friends, and demonstrate to colleges that you are a well-rounded individual.

Engage in conversations with as many adults as possible, including alumni from your high school, teachers, and family members. Discover what colleges they chose and what careers appeal to you. Do they know anyone working in these professions? Could they arrange a meeting? Inquire if they know anyone with a fascinating career, perhaps something you've never considered before. Could you meet these individuals? Adults are eager to support you, so don't hesitate to ask. This is known as "Networking", a valuable tool that will serve you well in the future.

Best of luck on your journey!
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Dino’s Answer

Hello Ian,

We appreciate your connection with us and your excellent question! Starting high school is indeed the perfect moment to begin thinking about your college journey. The sooner you start preparing for your higher education, the more advantageous it is. Why, you might ask?

Well, it's simple. You're granted ample time to focus on your grades or GPA during your first year of high school. From personal experience, I can tell you that many schools consider the consistency of your academic performance, which is reflected in your grades.

Remember, when aiming for top-tier colleges or universities, you compete against all graduating classes. It can be quite challenging if your GPA doesn't meet the required standards, potentially leading to automatic rejection from the school's admission office.

So, what's the best course of action? Here are some steps to consider:

1. Dedicate yourself to your studies.
2. Strive to maintain a GPA that is above average or higher.
3. Engage actively in extracurricular activities to create a balance with your academic pursuits.
4. Undertake additional training that could supplement your college prerequisites.
5. Visit your dream schools and inquire about their admission requirements. This will help you prepare better for your college entrance examinations.

Planning early allows you ample time to identify and improve your weaknesses, reducing future worries. Being proactive puts you ahead of the game. Good luck, Ian! The world is eagerly waiting to see what you'll achieve!
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Amalya’s Answer

It is good to start thinking about the future in advance, if possible. Based on your interests and academic passions, try to decide who you want to be in the future. Anyway, do think, but not overthink, ruminating yourself over and over again. It's a matter of time to understand yourself better. But since you are in an age near to become a college student, try starting earlier.
I would recommend taking part in some internships or work experience programs related to the disciplines you are relatively interested in. It will help you find out whether those career paths may or may not be good for you in the long-term prospects.
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Jerome’s Answer

If you have a career center or guidance counselor, I don’t think it’s ever too early. You don’t want to obsess about it, but you also don’t want to look up as a senior and realize you don’t have a plan.

By identifying a few colleges you like, you can make a checklist of things that you can do (GPA, Extracurricular Activities, etc) and have a loose plan to follow. It’s always easier to reach a destination when you use a map/gps.
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Jenna’s Answer

It's never too early to start thinking about it. College is a great time to explore and find yourself, both from an academic and a self-growth perspective. There are so many topics that you can learn about in college. I found myself plesantly surprised at how much I enjoyed some of the "random" GEs (General Education classes) that I was required to take. You never know what will inspire you and where that will lead you!
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Emma’s Answer

Hey Ian,

Starting to ponder about which colleges to apply to during your junior year of high school, or even sooner, is a smart move. This gives you ample time to delve into your passions, establish a robust academic base, and scout out colleges that resonate with your aspirations and tastes. In your freshman and sophomore years, it's crucial to concentrate on your studies, take on challenging subjects, and participate in after-school activities to create a diverse profile. You might also want to consider checking out local colleges or attending college expos to get a feel for what you want in a college.

As you step into your junior year, it's time to ramp up your college research, compile a list of potential colleges, and start prepping for any standardized tests if they're needed. Make sure to attend college info sessions and tours, and begin contemplating about who might provide powerful recommendation letters. Over the summer before your senior year, keep up with your research and think about visiting some colleges on your list. Start drafting your college application essays and look into potential scholarships or financial aid opportunities. In your senior year, wrap up your college list, finish up applications, and keep an eye on those deadlines. Early planning not only eases the stress of the application process but also gives you the best shot at finding colleges that perfectly match your academic and personal ambitions.
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