This one goes out to all the juniors out there. 

I can feel you squirming in your seats, “Who me?” Yes, you!  The time has come to turn that college dial up a notch.  “But I still have so much time left!”  But you really don’t.  Ideally in a year from now you’ll be sifting through acceptance letters and weighing college options before making a final decision.  That’s just one year.  Twelve months.  We have a lot of work to do.

If you’re like 99% of juniors you aware that college exists and you are relatively sure that’ll be your next move after high school.  And that’s probably it.  While totally normal you can see the discrepancy between where you are and where we need to get you by January 2018.  Let’s make a to-do list so we can stay on track and conquer this college thing!

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Now-March: Preliminary College Searching.  Get on that computer and start sifting through the thousands of colleges out there.  I don’t care if you use College Board’s search tool, Naviance, or a free website, any kind of college searching is good college searching.  Start looking at the factors these sites will ask you about and try to decide how you feel about them.  Do you want to be in a city or the country?  Big or small school?  Public or private? Major?  Do some of this basic exploration but please don’t count out any options at this point.  The objective is to start having some of these conversations with your family and have an idea what you’re looking for.

March-June: College Fairs and Visits.  This is prime time to see some schools and ask some questions. It’s also the time of year that many college fairs aimed specifically at juniors are hosted in this area.  Give me a call if you need a list of fairs or need help registering.  When planning college visits take a look on college websites to see if they’re having an open house (they probably are) and try to visit before classes let out in early May so you can really get a feel for how the campus looks when it’s humming.

July:  Narrow it Down.  You should now have all the information you need to formulate a final college list.  There’s way too much that goes into that process to talk about now, but just keep this target in mind.  Also, get that college essay polished and ready to go so you can…

August: Apply!  The Common Application as well as many college-specific applications go live around August 1st.  How cool would it be if you could start senior year with all your applications submitted and done?  You could be the cool kid to come to school with the first college acceptance letter and panic all your frenemies! 

All that will set you up to sit back and watch the letters roll in next fall and bring you around to next January when you’re sifting through those letters and starting to make the hard cuts.

Even though you might not be as motivated to start this early it is totally worth it in the long run.  Just ask some friends who are seniors who weren’t on top of it.  They might be dealing with the panic of having applied to the wrong schools or trying to beat the buzzer on deadlines.  Maybe they haven’t even visited some of the colleges on their list and are just keeping their fingers crossed things will work out.

Friends don’t let friends apply to college unprepared.  My friend, I want this to be as stress free as possible…So what are you waiting for?!