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This time of year, high school juniors are typically enjoying spring activities, looking forward to prom, hanging out with friends, and securing a summer job. Well…until a national pandemic occurs and the world all but shuts down!  This is certainly not how you had envisioned the latter part of your junior year playing out; disappointing, to say the least. But rather than dwell on everything that has been canceled, let’s try to look at the silver lining. You now have more free time to get a head start on your future plans.  There are plenty of things you can do right now to begin your college search! Here are some ideas to help your cause.Girl looking at laptop.

Create a list

 Start by writing down criteria that are important to you when looking for that “right fit” in a college.  Things to consider include:

  • Location – Do you want a college near home, or are you open to getting away? Keep in mind the travel time, expense, and lost opportunities to get together with family and friends.
  • School Size – Are you a student who thrives in smaller group settings, or are you more comfortable with larger class sizes?
  • Academics – Does the college offer the right classes/program to prepare you for the career that you are seeking?
  • Career Prep – Do they help you find internships? Ask about their job placement success rate.
  • Cost – Will you get enough in scholarships and other financial aid to afford the college? If not, always have a backup plan!

Research colleges

Check out college websites to learn more about their institution.  You can learn things about the school like; admissions requirements, scholarship deadlines, the size of the college, what type of college it is (private, public, trade school or community college), and a whole lot of other helpful information!  Tools such as EducationQuest’s College Profiles will help you to research and compare your college selections.

Talk to your parents

It’s always advisable to have a conversation with your parents about your desires for a college degree.  You can discuss finances, ask questions, and communicate about concerns while you all get on the same page!

Visit colleges

Campus visits are a vital part of the college selection process, and the spring of your junior year is the ideal time to schedule these tours. While in-person visits will have to wait, virtual campus tours are offered on the majority of colleges’ websites. This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse inside buildings, classrooms, and dorms – and hear testimonials from students and faculty. If you can’t find a particular college’s virtual tours, contact the Admissions Office for assistance.  Once colleges resume in-person tours, schedule a date with them so you can physically walk the campus and meet with admissions, financial aid, and faculty to determine if it’s the right fit for you!

Communicate with your school counselor

When school is back in session, get in the habit of communicating with your school counselor about your college and career thoughts. They are always there to bounce ideas off of!

Finish strong

Finally, it’s crucial to finish out your high school years strong!  Right now, both students and teachers are trying to navigate unchartered territory with online learning, but make it a priority to do schoolwork five days a week.  Continue learning, attending classes and submitting paperwork on time.  You have more time for ACT prep work as you will be tested in June (hopefully), but realize that colleges will continue to look at your entrance exams and high school transcripts to determine if you meet their admissions standards.

Refer to our junior timeline to help you stay on track for college. The more organized you are, the happier you and your family will be. If you’re feeling unsure or would just like to speak with a college planning specialist, contact the EducationQuest location nearest you.