Planning college visits

ColumbiaStudentsTalkingIMG_4663SOPHOMORES and JUNIORS: It’s not too early to start thinking about those initial college visits. In fact, the sooner you start, the more relaxed and enjoyable it will be. The spring of junior year is good. The spring or summer of sophomore year is better.

But which colleges should you look at? It pays to do some pondering, as well as some research before hitting the road for the classic college tour. There are thousands of schools out there—dozens of which might be good fits for you. No matter how early you start, you’ll never have time to see them all.

To save yourself and your family time, energy and money, I suggest you focus on colleges you have reason to believe may suit your needs. Here are seven key questions to consider before you start mapping those trips.

• How far from home would you be comfortable going?

• Would you be happiest in a small, medium or large school?

• Do you want to spend four years in a city, the country or the suburbs?

• Which schools have strong programs in areas that interest you?

• Will your transcript put you in the running at the most competitive schools?

• How much student diversity are you looking for?

• How important is financial aid?

As you mull these issues over, share your thoughts with your parents. Then ask to hear theirs.

One of the best-kept secrets of the college admissions process is that it works best when students and families talk openly about all aspects of this topic—including what it will cost—and do so early on.

If you get off to a good start now, senior year should be a breeze.

— The College Strategist

About the Author: Mona Molarsky

Mona Molarsky is a private college counselor who offers advice and assistance to students and their families at every stage of the college preparation and application process. She also offers tutoring in English, social studies and language arts.

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