When do I start applying to college?
It is never too early to begin the process of becoming acquainted with your college options. You may know a great deal about a number of colleges already. Perhaps you took a class over the summer at a local college, attended a concert, football game, special event or know someone in college right now.
However, nothing will serve you more than shifting your perspective from that of a high school student to that of a prospective college student. The information you take in about your college options will have new meaning, and you will ask different questions about a college that interests you. When you tour a campus, you will know what to look for and what to expect of your ideal choice. Start paying attention to your reactions to college websites. Ask yourself if the mail you start receiving from colleges looks interesting to you. Does it inspire you to learn more about that college, or is it hard to distinguish one college from another? As you start paying attention to your reactions, remember to trust your instincts and keep your expectations high. On the other hand, keep an open mind because you may not have that “aha” moment right away. Remember that your college search is a process that takes time. Do not expect to find a shortcut for a decision that requires a thoughtful, personal and time-consuming approach.
What do I need to get into a good college?
The first thing you need to ask is, “what is a good college?” Just because a college is popular or selective does not mean it is the only place you will get an extraordinary education. If you really want to go to Harvard, then we can talk about what it takes it get into the Ivy League and if that is the right place for you. If you are a typical, smart, interesting person who is ready to see what lies beyond high school, then I assure you there are more colleges than you can imagine that are helping students just like you become extraordinary young adults who live fulfilling, successful, adventurous and passionate lives.
How do you choose a college?
Many counselors, websites, and guide books suggest that you rank your potential colleges by size, location, weather, majors, and what sports or clubs are available. However, the first and most important question to ask yourself is, “what kind of education do I want?”
When you listen to college graduates talk about the college they chose, they rarely say the size, location, weather, majors, or clubs stood out as the most important aspects of their college years. Instead, they talk about the people they met, professors that challenged them, interesting classes that taught them something for the first time, friends they made, and how they grew into better, more knowledgeable, and capable people. My advice is to pay more attention to the big picture.