May   2017



Tips for High School Juniors Starting the College Search

CollegeXpress Student Writer, University of Missouri
Last Updated: Jul 28, 2020

For high school juniors, starting the college search is a big deal. Here are five tips for diving into the process (without going crazy).

If you’re like me and didn’t even begin to think about which college you want to go to until the middle of your junior year of high school, the college search process can seem daunting—to say the least.

The good news is that the college search process doesn’t have to make your junior year that stressful. As long as you stay organized and really think about what kind of college would be right for you, the college search process will be exciting!

Here are a few tips for high school juniors (or anyone, really) launching their college search.

Make a list of everything you want in a college

Whether you’re looking for avid Greek life, NASA-level campus labs, or just a picture-perfect quad, a good place to start is simply making a list of characteristics your dream school has.

Even if you don’t find them all in your colleges (and, LBH, that’s going to be pretty hard to do), it’s nice to compile them all in a checklist so you can check them off as you find colleges you like. The more check marks, the better the match!

Do your research

Spend time searching for schools online. There are plenty of sites out there (Hey! Like CollegeXpress!) that can help you with this.

As a junior, you probably only have some basic ideas of what you’re looking for in a college. Here are a few things you can search by:

  • Major: If you know what you want to study, search for schools offering your desired subject and begin to compile a list (If you have a popular major, you might want to use college rankings at this point to find schools with well-respected programs in the field—but be careful not let these lists take over your college search!)
  • Size: If you know you would be overwhelmed at a state school or completely bored at a small private school, search for schools that meet your ideal number of students
  • Location: If you know what state you’d like to live in or about how far you’d like to travel away from home, that can help you search for colleges.
  • Sports: If you play a sport, then you can search for colleges with a program the meets your wants. This search is especially helpful if you play a less-common sport like horseback riding or gymnastics.
  • And that’s just the beginning. You’ll find a ton of college search ideas here.

Make sure to write down or keep a typed document of all the schools that you would be remotely interested in attending so you can refer to it later.

Go to a college fair

Many schools (from high schools to universities to community colleges) hold college fairs open to the public at least once a year. These fairs cater to high school juniors and seniors, and they have representatives from schools around the country and are a great way to discover schools that you’ve never heard of before. They’re also a great way to get information about a college you like but don’t know anything about. You can ask questions and sign up to receive information from the colleges as well. Just make sure you prepare for your college fairs in advance so you know what to expect.

Visit your potential schools

The best way to see if you’re going to like a school is visiting the campus! You will see the buildings, meet some students, and get a general feel for the atmosphere. You can also ask super-specific questions while you’re there.

Talk to your school counselor or advisor

If you’re really stressing about starting your college search, and you’re having trouble maneuvering the vastness of the Internet, try talking to your high school college advisor or counselor. Their job is helping juniors and seniors in the college search process! They can push you in the right direction and ease your nerves a little bit.

No matter how stressful the college search may seem junior year, try to remember that with time and effort, you will find your college or university eventually. College is an exciting time, and searching for your dream school can even be fun! So take things one step at a time, and remember that you have the summer and fall of senior year to conduct your college search too.

So, high school juniors (or sophomores about to be juniors): how are you starting your college search? Leave a comment and let us know. Or get in touch with us.

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About Skyler Rossi

Skyler Rossi

Skyler is a senior from Princeton, New Jersey, and she will be studying journalism and creative writing next year at the University of Missouri.


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