Dear Estelle. Would you suggest beginning the college search at this time. John, a junior, is just completing his first semester and according to my friends we are past due to start college planning. Are they right? My husband and I had decided long ago not to succumb to the pressure at our son’s high school and now we’re caught up in it. JW, Littleton
Don’t panic. It is definitely not too late to begin the college process. Often touted as the most important year, the junior year is key in planning and preparation for college but it is most useful in laying the groundwork for applying to college next fall. Delaying important work which can be accomplished in the next 6 to 8 months can result in huge headaches and unnecessary stress next fall. My advice to John and all juniors: While continuing to focus on your studies, start identifying colleges that provide the academic setting and environment that will enable you to succeed as a college student. This process is not easy and requires research. Visit some colleges to get a sense of size, location and environment plus numerous other factors which are important when evaluating schools.
Be sure to take the SAT and ACT this spring. The ACT is free this April for all Colorado juniors enrolled at public schools. If you’re thinking of applying to selective colleges, you might consider taking the SATII subject tests which are required by numerous schools. Should you take them this spring? Absolutely. If scores on any of these tests fail to meet your expectations, plan to retake them next fall.
Contemplate your essay. Jotting down topics as they come into your head will give you a list of subjects that will surely help you at essay writing time. Getting a head start this spring and summer will ease your burden significantly when you are faced with filling out applications next fall.