TEN TIPS, START EARLY
1. Start early. In general, starting research in the spring of junior year is desirable so that families have the summer months to visit campuses.
2. Think outside the box. Perhaps following the pack or taking the easiest path is not the best plan. The college that is nearby or popular with friends might not be the best fit. It’s a good time to be open-minded.
3. Know yourself and be honest. Parents, cousins, friends and siblings are wonderful sources of information but they have their own goals, personal style and life experiences. They are not YOU.
4. Explore thoroughly. The internet is your most valuable resource. You can research academic profiles, majors and requirements. College sites offer virtual tours and opportunities to connect with faculty and students.
5. Visit colleges and universities. Tours help you understand what is important at each institution and what to ask before applying. If you can’t visit, use virtual tools online and ask to speak with local alumni.
6. Junior year grades are important. College officials will be considering your transcript during senior year, so they want to see strong or improving performance through the end of junior year.
7. Take exams (SAT, ACT) sooner rather than later. Taking tests more than once usually improves scores. Timed practice tests help, too. Set aside enough time to prepare and to retest if necessary.
8. Summer programs help you explore. Summer academic programs, volunteer service opportunities or career experiences are valuable in preparing a college plan.
9. Write a great essay. Think before writing, be genuine, plan your story and proofread your work. Most important, answer the question asked.
10. Develop an application strategy for each college. Make certain the application process works for your success. Be organized and meet all deadlines. If you need help, consider hiring a qualified college consultant.
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