Exploring College Choices for Juniors                             by Patti Brugman

By Patti Brugman

Juniors looking to start the college process are right on time. Now is when to look honestly at what you have to offer a college and which colleges might have the best programs for you. These two factors, your strengths plus their offerings, are what will make for the perfect college match a year from now.

To start the process, take a look at your transcript. This will be the most important document in your application package. You should take a look at your GPA as well as your class choices.  If you've taken AP classes and done well in them, great. If you haven't, that's all right, too. Your transcript shows your academic potential. (Later on, your teacher recommendations will help even more.) Of all the things you offer to your future college, the ability to succeed in the classroom is the most compelling strength you offer.  So, at this point in your college search, take a look at your academics and build from there. And, no matter how strong your GPA is, if you have any Ds on your high school transcript, make sure to repeat the class in summer school. 

Next, let’s start the college search. Buy or borrow a copy of The Fiske Guide to Colleges. This wonderful tome describes colleges honestly and colorfully. In addition, each entry ends with a sidebar called "Overlaps" which will reference other similar colleges for further reading. Or, you can just open the book and read at random. Have fun with your search. After all, this is your great adventure!

Now is also a great time to start contacting colleges.  If you read about a college that has what you want (programs, location, architecture, weather, student body, teams, etc..) go to their website and to "Prospective Students." Here, you can register so that the college knows you're a little bit interested in them. This will be very important when you start applying to colleges. Adcoms (Admission committees) give admission preferences to students who have shown interest in their school over a long period of time. By registering with a school, you start the process. You can increase your “interest points” even further by talking with college representatives who visit your school, going to college fairs, and visiting colleges. 

Lastly, remember that the most important piece of information for your future acceptability is your transcript, so put academics first and you'll be fine.