If you want to get a step ahead in your college application, then you’re being really smart to make some college visits this summer. Even”rising” high school sophomores, and certainly rising juniors can take a lot of stress off their college decisions by starting now.
Here are 4 ways to check out your “smart quotient”:
1. You See College As an Adventure
Some kids want to go where all their friends are going, and that might sound pretty comfortable at age 15. But if you have your sites set on somewhere a little different than State U or Flagship University, then it’s time to look around. There are nearly 4,000 colleges and universities in the US alone, (and even more when you consider Canada or Europe)! They don’t all look the same, they don’t all teach the same, and the don’t all want the same type of students. You can open the door to a new adventure by visiting even 3 or 4 colleges that your friends have never heard of!
2. You Know That Procrastination Is Not the Best Way to Make Decisions
You can’t apply to what you don’t know—and the most common mistake tends to be selecting your college based on the Initial Excitement Factor–picking the first college you get excited about. You’ve got to research far beyond that “good feeling” factor, and if you visit right, you’re on a good path. And, visiting is only the beginning–good decisions require deeper research. This article on Tips from Admissions Counselors from the New York Times highlights how helpful planning far ahead of your junior and senior year can be. Imagine how much less stress you’ll have later if you start now!
3. You Believe That Your Application Can Be Competitive in More Ways Than Two
GPA and SAT scores—that’s how you’ll get into your favorite college, right? Yes, and more. The more often refers to the essay, but admissions decisions are usually made on the quality of character. How you demonstrate your character to a college involves more than writing a nice essay—the more you know about the college and how you can fit into that particular college’s “culture” (nice word for “can you cut it here”), the more likely you can write an essay that will get you in.
4. You Understand That the Cost of College Will Likely Be Important
There are a lot of myths out there about the cost of college, and if you are in 10th grade now, you can expect costs to change by the time you are a senior in high school. Two big myths that My College Planning Team aims to debunk are 1) public colleges are the least expensive way to go, and 2) parents who don’t have ready cash or 529 plans are doomed to use their retirement savings to pay for college.
How do you accomplish a worthwhile campus visit? Here are some good suggestions from NACAC. Visiting the colleges can be just the beginning of your College Adventure! If you’d like some customized advice on how to choose the right colleges to visit, contact our College Admission coaching team.