Your junior year of high school is an important time in your college search. Of course, your guidance counselor will have all sorts of ideas about how to keep that process moving along. Here are five tips from the admissions staff at Sweet Briar College to help you get organized and prepare for the adventure that lies ahead:
Research your interests.
You might wonder: Which colleges offer programs I am interested in studying? What type of institution would I feel comfortable at for four years? What other interests would I like to pursue while in college? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
Visit campuses that appeal to you.
The only way to know for sure if a college is right for you is to visit and see what the experience is like. Don’t be afraid to walk around campus by yourself — talk to students, faculty and staff as you wander around. Organized tours are important, but you also want to check things out on your own.
Talk with friends who are already in college.
Ask them questions about their experiences. What surprised them when they arrived on campus? What advice should they have followed? What advice was worthless?
Professionalize your image.
Make sure you have an appropriate name for your email address. Your voice mail should be respectful; you should have developed a résumé; and you should have some sort of plan to continue to build on your experiences.
Start a scholarship search.
You may not be able to apply for most scholarships until your senior year, but if you know what exactly scholarship programs are looking for in their recipients, you can make adjustments to help you meet those criteria. Plus, looking at scholarships will help you think about other related questions: Who should I ask for references? What can I write about in my college essay? What volunteer experiences would I like to take up senior year?
Bill Allen is dean of admissions and financial aid at Sweet Briar College. Originally from Johnstown, N.Y., he was a first-generation college student and Pell Grant recipient at George Washington University in D.C., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in American civilization before getting his master’s in U.S. history at James Madison University. Last fall, we asked him 11 questions to get to know him a little better.