When it comes to considering and ultimately committing to a college, the timeframe in which you do it is important. There are things you can do all throughout high school to prepare for college. Scholarships are available for students of all ages, and getting good standardized test scores and a solid GPA are important as well.
Here's a general guideline of when to decide on a college, from the beginning of the process:
Tenth grade is the time to start thinking about college. Ask yourself some questions: What size college do you want to attend? Do you want to stay in-state or go to another part of the country? Do you want to live on campus? Begin considering these things, and start thinking about what you'd like to major in. You don't have to pick a specific major right away, but if you get an early idea about what career you'd like to have, you can look for that area of study in potential colleges.
Your junior year is when the college process gets into full swing. This is when you need to take your SAT or ACT and make sure your GPA is where you want it to be. Start working on a college list by choosing some reach, match, and safety schools. Once the school year is over and summer has started, visit as many potential college options as you can if you're able to narrow down your list!
It's decision time once senior year rolls around. Most college application deadlines are due in the spring, so use your time during the fall to craft an excellent application. Keep track of any community service hours to include in your application, and ask for a couple of letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors at your school. Don't forget to fill out your FAFSA! You can start your FAFSA application on October 1st of your senior year. Once your spring semester starts, you need to apply to colleges, start getting your financial aid ready to go, and get ready to graduate!