Initiating the college search in the spring of the junior year: Preparing for the college search
One of the most important things in this initial college search process is to figure out your academic and your financial profile. Your academic profile is mainly your GPA, Class Rank and your PSAT/SAT scores and your financial profile is how much money are you and your family is expected to contribute towards your education. To figure out what is you Expected Family Contribution, you can go online and use the software available to forecast an estimate of your EFC. It is extremely important for you to have knowledge of these items before you seriously do your college search. Every college and university has an academic profile and you have to match your profile to their profile to see if you have any chance of getting in to these institutions. When you look at any institution of higher education, you need to know if your profile is in the bulk of the last entering freshman class. Depending on the strength of your profile and the selectivity of the institution, you could be in the top 25%, the middle 50% or the bottom 25% of the last entering class.
The second crucial piece in this college search process is your financial profile. You need schools on your list that you can afford with little help or no help at all and the only way that you can do this is to be aware of your financial profile. Believe it or not, money will determine where you will attend school. You will apply to private schools and public schools ranging in prices from very expensive to the least expensive, which will be your instate colleges/universities. Besides your state institutions, you may want to look at schools across the country that may be a better buy for your money depending on where you live. There are some great schools in the Southern half of the country with very low sticker price.
Your academic profile will determine what schools you will be able to get in to and if you qualify for any scholarships. Besides the 3 major pieces of your academic profile, your list of activities and sports can make a huge difference in the schools that you will get in to and attend.
In the process of doing your college search, you should look at some schools that are long shots (reach schools), schools that are good match and your safety schools. Safety schools are schools that you know that you can get in to and that you can afford to attend with no financial help or very little help.
The importance of college visits in the spring of your junior year: Finding the right fit for you academically and for your personality
College visits is the only way that you are going to find the right fit for your personality. Each campus has its own personality based on the students currently attending that particular institution. Your success in college will be largely due to the academic and social environment of the particular institution. You may not be able to visit all of the schools that you are researching in the spring of your junior year, so, you may want to schedule some visits to a few schools for the summer of your junior. You should visit a few schools from each level of the schools on your list (reach schools, good match schools and your safety schools). When you are on a college campus, you will get the feel for the campus, the student body, the academic program and the surrounding areas. You will either feel good and comfortable on a campus or not and this how you will find the right fit for you.
College admissions and college placement tests: The importance of these spring college admissions tests
In the spring of your junior year, you should at least take one SAT/ACT test and if you are looking at selective private colleges/universities, you should also take any achievement tests (SAT 2's) that you can in June of your junior year. Colleges and universities usually take the best SAT/ACT scores from your junior year and your senior year. It is to your advantage to take the tests at least twice. SAT/ACT tests are used for admissions by most of the institutions in this country and the SAT 2's are used mainly for placement once you have been accepted.
These tests are the third piece in the puzzle of college admissions and they are not as important as your GPA and your Class Rank. These tests still hold quite a bit of importance because some institutions use these tests to award some of their scholarships.
For more helpful information that can save you time and money, go to the website below: Conquering college search
http://www.collegeadmissionsandfinancialaid.com copy and paste if the link is not alive
By Leonel R. DaRosa, M. Ed., Guidance Counselor