3 Tips For Getting Started on the College Search

By Donal Mahoney - Davidson College - NextGenVest Global Ambassador - Stamford, CT

Don’t bury your head in the sand, take control of the college search with these pro-tips.As a high school junior, it can become easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of college letters and materials thrown your way but, with focus, you can breeze through this hectic time. Take advantage of every college visit and make the most out of the information afforded to you by tackling the college search like a seasoned pro with these key pointers.

Write It Down. Now.

There is no doubt that you will be visiting many college campuses during your junior and senior years as you look to find the perfect environment. However, it is important to make the most of each visit and maximize your experience. Don’t wait until after first few college tours, when much of the information may begin to blur together, to start writing down what you learned. Put the pros, cons, likes, dislikes, and useful info down as soon as possible in order to start seeing the clear fore-runners.Pro-tip: I found it helpful to jot down the information from each visit during the car ride home. From my impressions of the campus to requirements for possible majors of interest, I found writing all of my thoughts while they were fresh helped in organizing and clarifying my college search experience.

Meet the campus, and its administration, in person.

Try attending a college information session followed by a campus tour. Learning about the school then getting to experience the campus first-hand drives home the facts about each university. Take notes and write down any questions you may have as the tours almost always begin or end in the Admissions Office with time for additional questions or information.Pro-tip: Ask the Admissions Officer from your region a question or at least introduce yourself. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to email them with questions later in the admissions process if I had already spoken to them in-person and established a connection.

Stay organized. 

While most interactions now are done via web, college brochures, pamphlets, and letters of invitation still show up on your doorstep.  College websites can be very informative but are sometimes confusing to navigate so don’t down paper’s benefits of having all the information in one place to highlight, mark-up, and file in a tangible way.Pro-tip: When I began to receive informational mail from colleges I would save everything and create files for them. Then, when my definitive list of colleges began to emerge, I was able to return to the letters and emails I had received and learn about scholarship opportunities and admissions information.