Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn
Most students start their college search in earnest during either their sophomore or junior year of high school. Initially, you want to evaluate yourself rather than focus on what colleges have to offer you. A university can have all the resources in the world—but that won’t matter if you’re not the kind of person who will use them. Think about what kind of experience you would like in college, from the way you learn best to the academic experiences you’d like to have to what you want to do for fun. Once you have done some thinking about those things, then you can begin to look for colleges that align with your vision for yourself. It is ideal to have a firm handle on where you would like to apply by the time you finish your junior year of high school. Then you can anticipate which applications you will need to file and what is required of you, and you will be able to lessen the stress of the application process.
Michael Milone, PhD
Research Psychologist and Writer
Talk to your family and friends about college. Go to a library and look at some books that show different colleges, or check out some colleges online. Something that’s really fun is looking at college websites with friends. You can brainstorm about what you like or don’t like about the different colleges. You will probably discover some facts about colleges that surprise you. Another thing that you might enjoy is trying to find your “dream college.” Suppose you didn’t have to worry about money or anything else. Where would go to college? Why would you choose that college? Talk about your choice with your friends and family. You might be surprised to find that other people admire your choice, and if it really is your dream college, maybe there’s a way you can make that happen.
K. Patricia Aviezer, MS
Inside Track to College, Inc.
Start with you! Exploring your learning style and what environment will optimize your learning is important. Then visit colleges to “feel” the campus and observe the types of students who attend; these are important steps to take as a foundation for developing the college list. You can start as early as middle school to visit local campuses and attend their information sessions to hone your ability to evaluate which colleges are best for you.
For more advice from higher education professionals who know their stuff, explore our Ask the Experts section!