The Importance of Researching Colleges Before Your Senior Year

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When you are in the middle of your high school years, college may be a plan for the future. However, it may seem too distant to actually begin planning for. After all, you may be in the middle of learning how to drive, getting or holding down your first job, taking Advanced Placement tests and more. With many things pulling your attention to the present, thoughts about the future may be limited. However, you should not wait until your senior year in high school to begin researching colleges and making plans for the future. These are some of the primary reasons why you should begin preparing for college in your junior and even sophomore years in high school.

The Benefit of Applying Early

Before you research college application deadlines, it is easy to assume that college deadlines would be closer to the end of your senior year. After all, applying a full year or more before you plan to actually be in college may seem like overkill. However, the application and decision process at top universities is lengthy. Because of this, many colleges and universities open their application process approximately a year ahead of time, and the final application deadline may be approximately six months before you may start your first class. Colleges and universities have a limited number of applicants that they can admit as well as a limited number of grants, scholarships and more that are available. When you apply early, you can increase your chance of getting admitted. You may also be more likely to receive aid from the school.

Ample Thought About Your Major

You may have a decent idea about the career that you want to pursue even when you enter high school as a freshman. However, researching the career, the education requirements, the income potential and other factors may help you to refine your plans for the future. All schools have a limited number of majors that you can select, and many schools may not have the major that you are interested in pursuing. You need time to research careers and to decide on a path for your future. This is not a decision to take lightly because it can impact the rest of your life. You also need time to create a list of top schools for your major.

Time to Research and Tour School

Many college students have a preferred school already in mind. For example, this may be a popular local school or a school where their parents went. With a closer look at the cost of tuition, the housing options, the majors available and even the lifestyle that you can expect to enjoy at the school, you may find that the school at the top of your list is not ideal for you after all. You need time to find schools that are affordable, that have your major and that will give you the life experiences that you desire for the next few years. In addition, you should plan to tour at least three to five schools so that you can firm up your decision to apply to each one. Pay attention to admissions requirements for each school as well.

The Need to Prepare Financially

Unless you have a fully-funded college savings account, you will need to plan ahead for how you will fund your education. Will you take a part-time load in college and work your way through school slowly over the next few years so that you can also work and earn money? Will you take out student loans or apply for scholarships? You should pay attention to scholarship and financial aid deadlines. Remember that you may have better luck getting funds from these sources if you apply early.

The reality is that it is never too early to begin learning more about different colleges and universities. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the education process, funding options and more. Applying to and enrolling in college are major events in your life, and they deserve considerable research, planning and forethought. Regardless of where you are currently at with the research and application process, you should get started as soon as possible so that you are prepared for the years ahead.