Do you have a college you have been dreaming about going to since you were 6 years old? Do you feel lost, with no idea where to start looking for colleges? Either way, it’s never to early to start searching for the perfect college. In fact, the earlier you begin, the more time you will have to look at schools and find the perfect match.
When and How to Start
As you begin your freshman year you can start to think about what interests you and what career opportunities you may want to pursue. An article from USNews suggests you should start your college search by learning to listen to yourself. Start to understand what your social needs are, your learning style and the types of educational settings where you feel most comfortable.
While your financial situation may change over the course of high school, it is important to talk to your parents about your finances right away. Who is expected to pay for college? Do you have any money saved for college? What is the likelihood of receiving financial aid? Knowing your financial expectations and limitations may help you put parameters on your college search or inspire you to seek out particular scholarships.
After you have developed a list of potential colleges during your freshman and sophomore year, your junior year is the time to start visiting colleges. Going to a college can give you a much better feel for how you would fit in there. Don’t just take a tour, but arrange to talk with students, meet with professors or advisors in your area of interest. Looking at buildings will help, but try to get a feel for the academic and social environment as well.
By the fall of your senior year, you should have developed a short list of schools you would like to apply to. You can have a dream school, but make sure there is more than one school on your list.
The Best Choice for You
As you search for schools, keep in mind that everyone is different and there is no single school that will be a perfect fit for everyone, no matter how high they are listed in the rankings. Consider your personal learning and social style, the culture of the school, the availability of academic programs and support, location and cost. Make your decision based on your needs, not what your friends are doing or the most prestigious sounding institution. When you find the school that will allow you to thrive, you can achieve your academic dreams.
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