Three Pieces Of Advice For Starting Your College Search

On Saturday, June 20th, NJ SEEDS hosted its 4th annual College Day (photos available). With over 60 colleges and universities represented and programs covering a wide range of topics, the day was informative for all who attended. Examples from the day’s presentations included affording college and understanding financial aid, writing a stand-out college essay, and attending a predominantly white institution as a student of color.

Following presentations, scholars and their families met with college representatives to learn more about each school’s programs, student bodies, and opportunities.

We’ve asked the SEEDS Placement team to share some of the day’s highlights and important takeaways. Because the day was so informative, we will cover the event in two posts. Be sure to stay tuned for Part 2 – coming next week!

Here are three pieces of advice for starting the college search:

Maintain an open-mind

During the spring and summer before your senior year, it is best to keep an open mind when looking at colleges and universities. Finding the right “fit” is about finding schools which meet your needs academically, socially and financially. For now, keep geography out of the conversation. Even if a school is across the country, put it on the list. Take some time to research and talk to people about the schools before you decide to take off. Current students, alumni, admissions officers, parents, and your college counselors can all serve as helpful resources during your search. Their insights might impact how you view and understand a particular school.

Develop your non-negotiable criteria:

As you enter the fall of your senior year, you and your family need to come up with your three or four non-negotiable items that a college must have to make your final list. A particular major? Type of school (liberal arts, technical, large/small, etc.)? Percentage of students with jobs after graduation? Graduate school options? School size? Study abroad opportunities? Demographics? Your final list should consist of schools you would be happy to attend. Your college counselor can help you tailor your list to make sure it has a variety of options that make sense for you.

Create a college application team:

Teachers, parents, advisors, mentors, or friends are great resources. Figure out who is on your team and keep them close. They are there to support you and give advice. You are the driving force and need to keep the team focused and energized so that they, in turn, can keep you focused and energized during this long process. This is especially true when it comes to teachers who will be writing recommendation letters for you. Don’t forget to show your team (especially your parents!) gratitude for their help and support.