For high school seniors, finding the best college is often one of the most challenging tasks that they would face in their life. However, finding the right college is not as easy as choosing a local high school, rather, it’s a comprehensive process that requires months of preparation in advance. Here are a few steps that you can take to find the right college for you:
Decide on a major:
Think about what interests you the most recently, and consider whether you are willing to do the same thing for your career. Then research college majors that are related to your interests through tools such as BigFuture by Collegeboard or other major and career-related quizzes online. Don’t worry about this major as a lifetime commitment because most colleges allow changing majors during your time in college. In fact, according to the Department of Education, about 30% of undergraduates change majors.
There is no guarantee that one college will accept you, so you should apply to multiple schools. When choosing to apply for schools, general rankings made by companies such as US News are a good starting point. However, you should not solely rely on the rankings. Faculty reputation, environment, cost, and location are equally important in your college search. Also, consider the possibility of getting into the colleges, your college list should have an equal mix of reach (low acceptance rate), target (medium acceptance rate), and safety (high acceptance rate) schools.
Apply for colleges:
Apply to those schools on sites such as CommonApp or Coalition. Sometimes the schools also have their own separate application platform, such as the UC system, and you should apply through their own system. Many schools may also have essay requirements in the application. Make sure that you allocate enough time for the essays.
Prepare for financing colleges:
Regardless of your family income, you should still try to get some aid when it comes to paying for college. You and your family should look into filling out the FAFSA or CSS profile because these not only apply for need-based financial aid, but some merit scholarships also use this information when considering potential award amounts.
Acceptance to colleges:
Around the second semester of your senior year, you should start hearing back from colleges that you applied. When it comes to committing to a college, you would need to compare your choices in aspects such as the actual cost after aid, environment, difficulty of the degree, etc. You should choose what interests you the most and also what you and your family can afford.
After committing to a college, colleges would give you directions on moving in. If your college is in-state or close to where you live, you can always drive there. However, if you do find yourself choosing an out-of-state school, make sure that you find a cross-country mover and prepare to move in in advance.
After you finish all the above steps, enjoy your college life!