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Starting Your College Search: A Spring Guide for Juniors

Even though the first college applications deadline won’t come around until about mid-October, now is the perfect time to start thinking about college. Spring break is right around the corner, and it’s a great opportunity to take the time to visit colleges in-person or virtually. But how do you visit colleges if you have no idea what you want to major in or where you want to study? Well, this is the guide for you.

Step 1: Brainstorm the Basics

In order to decide where to start looking, first answer the following questions:

When is the Right Time to Write the College Essay?

Every year when families of sophomores and juniors meet with me, many parents express to me how “behind” their child is in the college process and how stressed everyone is about that.  At that point, I always ask, “Behind whom?”

“Everyone else.”

While there is definitely a timeline involved in the college process, that timeline is also intensely personal for each student. Comparing that process with someone else’s process is not only stress-inducing, but it can also be detrimental to a student’s unique college application.

Picking the Right Major: How Do You Beat the Robots?

Attempting to mold your future is a daunting task, made no easier by a rapidly changing technological environment. Motivation in choosing a major boils down to two main concerns: passion and personal fulfillment versus the likelihood of obtaining a reasonably (or wildly) lucrative job down the line. Some pick a major to fulfill one over the other, some try for a major that balances the two in some way. For those concerned with finding a path to financial stability and prosperity though, how to choose wisely?

Early Decision: What Happens if You Back Out?

Early Decision (ED) is a very appealing application option. Students who apply early decision know their admission decision before the New Year and, if accepted, they are set free from the grueling college application process. For many students, knowing their college plans as soon as possible is a huge relief. Applying early decision is very tempting; however, students must be cognizant of that to which they are agreeing.

Mind the Gap Year

If you’ve ever been on the London tube, you’ve seen the signs that say, MIND THE GAP. Given that it’s college application season, my message to parents is,  “Mind the gap year.”

I know what you’re thinking: “If my child took a year off before college, she’d never go back to school. She’ll become a GAP salesclerk for life.” My response is, “Not if you handle the process correctly.”

College Placement - Finding What's Right For You

There are approximately 4,500 colleges in the United States. Whether your child wants to attend a traditional four-year institution, community college, musical conservatory, or an art institute, higher education is a viable option for everyone. As a college placement counselor, if I had to choose the most important thing for students and families to remember about the college process it would be that college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.


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