The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
Find Out More
If you're a junior, you know that practically everyone has begun breathing down your neck about college. 11th grade is the year where you research, visit and begin to decide upon which colleges you want to apply to. The college search process can be daunting, especially when you don't know where to start. Here are some tips from a senior who just applied to three schools today!
What Should Matter in The Search Process?
The school you attend will be your home for the next four (possibly more) years. You'll want to consider whether you'll be happy there. One factor you should consider is the location and atmosphere of the school. How far away do you want to be from home? You have the opportunity to move somewhere completely new. Do you prefer living in the city or in a more traditional style campus? You'll also want to consider the people that attend that college and the professors. Could you see yourself making friends and lasting connections there? Also, consider the dorms that the school offers. Would you feel comfortable there? Another factor you'll want to consider is majors and academic programs. You are going to college to learn, after all. You'll want to look for a school that offers the program or major you're interested in and research exactly what that program entails. Even if you are undecided, are there a number of majors or programs you could potentially choose later on? In addition, you'll want to consider if the school has any athletic programs or extracurricular activities that you are interested in. Even though you are there to learn, you won't spend all of your time on academics so you'll want to look for somewhere where you can also enjoy yourself. Some additional factors that might come into play in your search might be internships in the area, study abroad programs, leadership programs, etc).
What Shouldn't Matter in The Search Process?
There are many misconceptions about what to look for in a college. Just because a college is popular or has a good reputation, doesn't mean that you should apply there. I'm not discouraging you from applying to those schools, just be sure you are applying there because you could really see yourself there and not because the college is a household name. Also, just because a college has a lower acceptance rate, that doesn't mean it is any better than a school with a higher acceptance rate. Don't apply to a school simply because their acceptance rate is 10%. Apply to that school if you feel that it is a good fit. An acceptance rate should not be a deciding factor, it is only important in showing you your chances of getting into that school. You don't want to apply to a college based on a reputation, so make sure you like the school enough to consider going there if you are admitted.
What Should You Consider?
There are many factors you should consider in the process. One of these factors, as mentioned before, is location. Do you want to stay instate or do you want to move out-of-state? My advice is that you should apply to a mix of both, if you are unsure. Another factor you should consider is the size of the school. Size of schools can range anywhere between 2,000 students to 50,000 students. The social dynamic is going to vary depending on the size of the school, so you should consider whether you want to be a part of a smaller, closer-knit community, or a larger, more diverse community? As mentioned above, you should also consider majors and programs. Some majors may be more rare, and not all colleges may offer that major. On the other end of the spectrum, some majors are offered at almost every school, so you should search for a program that stands out to you (in a good way). Lastly, you should consider the cost of the school. This is something you'll want to discuss with your parents later on, but you should be aware that depending on whether the college is private or public and whether you are paying in-state or out-of-state tuition, cost is going to vary greatly.
Where to Start Looking?
Now that you are aware of what to keep in mind during the search process, you are probably wondering where to start. I recommend starting with one factor on the list above and using Naviance or Google to find colleges that potentially fit one of those factors. If you know of a college that you're already interested in, research that college and see if you like what they offer. Later on, you should start to look into the requirements for the application process and plan to visit the campus if you can. Visiting the campus will give you a better feel for the atmosphere and the people that attend the school.
Even though you don't need to start looking for colleges until second semester (summer, at the latest), it isn't a bad idea to get a jump-start during the first semester. Don't stress out about finding the perfect college, you only need to find a list of schools that you are interested in. Most students apply to somewhere between four to eight schools, but your interest list can be much longer than that. You'll be able to narrow down that list later on when you start to apply.
Good luck with your college search process!