Before You Apply: Tips for Juniors

college research

Choosing a college is a big decision. As you’re researching colleges, there are a lot of different factors to consider and many questions you need to ask. In the early stages of preparation, before you begin sending out your applications, you’ll want to take some time to consider your priorities so you can  determine which colleges best fit your needs. Here are a few important tips to get the ball rolling on preparing for college:

Determine Your Priorities

Everyone has different motivations for going to college and different visions of their college experience. In the early stages of your research, you need to think about what is most important to you. This will help you narrow down your search and find colleges or universities that meet your requirements.  Use the “Finding the Right College for You” checklist to help.

Your academic major can be one of your first priorities in your search. Obviously, you can change your mind or go into college undecided about your major, but if you have a specific career path that you want to follow, you need to find colleges that have your major. If you are undecided about your major, then you want to search for colleges that have a variety of options that appeal to you.

Next, you want to determine the type of college that you prefer. Do you want to attend a private institution or a state college? Big or small? Rural or urban? There are many different types of colleges out there, so it is up to you to determine what is the best fit for you. Price is also a factor in the type of school you want to attend, so it is important to begin looking into different payment and financial aid options during this step.

A third factor to consider is distance from home. When beginning your college search, you need to consider if and how far you want to move. You could choose a college in another state and only see your family a few times a year; or you could choose to be a commuter and attend a local college. Distance can also add costs to your college experience like gas or airfare.  It is important to weigh all of your options and determine what location works best for your needs.

Researching Colleges

After you have figured out preliminary qualities, it is time to begin researching colleges. This can be daunting, but you can begin by using the CFNC college search function, which will show you colleges in North Carolina, along with information about each one.Read about the colleges, visit their websites and ask questions of anyone who you may know who attended them. Collect as much information as you can about each college and plan a campus visit This will help you get a better idea of what your life as a student would be like.

Seek Guidance/Ask Questions

Don’t think that you need to navigate your college search alone. You have so many resources in your life who can assist you. You are going to have a lot of questions, so you need to determine who can best help you answer each one. Talk to your parents, teachers, school counselors, coaches and siblings about all of your different options. Asking people who you trust will help you determine what will work best for you and will help you discover questions that you never even knew you had.

While there are a lot of different things to consider in the early stages of researching colleges, the most important thing to remember is that you need to have an open mind. The college that you think would be a perfect fit might not be at all what you are actually looking for, or a college that wasn’t even on your radar could surprise you. Visit a number of  campuses and find the place that feels the most like home. If you take your time and plan wisely, you will be right on track when the time comes to make your choice.