5 Things I Wish I Knew About the College Search
Not too long ago, I was in the same spot you’re in now: a homeschooler about to graduate high school, knowing that I wanted to go to college but not sure where to begin. After much trial and error, I made my way through college, and now I work in the Admissions Office of my alma mater. Here are some lessons that I learned that will hopefully help get the ball rolling for you!
5 Tips to Help Your College Search
1. What Do You Want?
To start, it’s important to make a list of what YOU want for your college experience. Do you want a large or small school? Close to home or farther away? Are you looking for a particular program/organization? Do they have the services you want? Rank this list in importance and use this as your rubric moving forward.
2. What’s Out There?
Knowing what colleges are available to you is the next step to the process. Even if you already have a college in mind, it never hurts to know what options are out there. Go online and research any local homeschool conventions or regional/national college fairs to broaden your search. While you’re there, go ahead and start asking about the things at the top of your list! You might even add some things to your list as you learn what colleges offer.
Now that you’ve learned about some schools and determined which meet your top criteria, it’s time to dig deeper into each school using the list. You might find you’re willing to compromise some of the less important things, and that’s fine! Go ahead and mark the ones that don’t meet your most important expectations off of your list. If there’s information that you’re looking for that you can’t find on the website, reach out to the Admissions Office of that school!
4. Plan a Visit
After sifting through the main bulk of colleges, begin reaching out to their Admissions Offices and see what opportunities there are to visit campus or attend an event. See if you can sit in on a class, meet with a professor, eat lunch, and maybe even meet with your Admissions Counselor and the Financial Aid Office so that you can ask your questions and make the most out of your visit. Visits are very important so that you can get a better picture of what campus is like and it will significantly help narrow down your list. How did the visit make you feel? Did you feel at home?
The Admissions Office is an important resource and guide through this process. They also serve as advocates for you during the admission and scholarship process, so get in touch with your admission counselor early and often.
My final tip to you would be to start this process early. Start exploring your college options during your junior year so that your senior year is less chaotic. Trust me, you won’t regret it!