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When Should My Teen Start Their College Search?

There isn't a specific time students have to start the college search, but our experts have advice for parents on when and how their students can be planning.

Charlotte M. Klaar, PhDCharlotte M. Klaar, PhD
Klaar College Consulting LLC
The college search should begin in earnest in the second half of junior year. This can be preceded by a year or so of unofficial college visits so the student can see various types of colleges (city, rural, large, small, etc.). One thing that I caution my client families not to do is to immediately begin their college visits with Ivy League schools or colleges of that type. Of course, your child is going to like these colleges. Realistically, even if they're qualified to attend them, what are their chances of acceptance? Don’t discourage them before the process begins.

Kelli DolanKelli Dolan
Senior Assistant Editor
The college search can start anytime in high school. Starting as a freshman may seem excessive, but when we say “start,” we simply mean freshmen should make smart academic choices that will benefit their college admission chances later. They can find their academic strengths and plan future course schedules around their burgeoning major and career interests. They can join clubs and be consistent with them over the next few years to display their dedication to extracurriculars. Younger students can even start searching for scholarships to put away for the future! It’s really never too early to start planning for college—and with many schools' rolling admission policies, it's never really too late either, so don't be discouraged if your upperclassman student seems behind schedule. 

No matter what grade your student is in, you can use our Ultimate College Planning Checklist for all four years of high school to help them stay on track.

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