Now that spring semester of junior year is well under way, you might want to think about beginning your college search. It might seem early, but there are several important reasons to start the process now instead of waiting for summer vacation or fall of senior year.
Early Application Deadlines. Most college and university early application deadlines are in the first half of November. You want to give yourself a couple of months to work on those applications, sign up for interviews, and write your supplemental essays. If you wait to begin the college search until the summer, or the fall of senior year, you might not have enough time to decide on your top-choice schools and complete your applications with the care and attention they need.
Spring College Visits. You might be planning to wait to explore and visit colleges during your summer vacation, when you don’t have to worry about missing school or catching up on homework. However, the best time to visit colleges is when the fall or spring semester is in session. That is when most students are around and the campus vibe is at its liveliest. If you begin your college search now, you can identify a few colleges to visit while school is still in session. If you wait until the summer, college campuses will be much quieter, and it will be harder to get a sense of what it’s “really” like to go to school there.
SAT Subject Tests. Another reason to begin the college search now is so that you have enough time to decide if you want or need to take SAT Subject Tests. Subject Tests generally correlate with the curriculum of advanced courses in high school, specifically AP courses, but other honors or advanced courses can be good preparation, as well. If you begin the college search now, you will get a sense of if you’re interested in schools that require SAT Subject Tests. That will give you enough time to register and prepare for the tests in May or June, to correlate with cumulative exams at the end of this year.
Even though spring semester of junior year is packed – applying to summer programs, preparing for the SAT or ACT, and just keeping up with your schoolwork and extracurricular activities – it’s important to carve out some time to devote to your college search. You’ll want to have plenty of time to visit colleges while school is in session, decide on Subject Tests, and have plenty of time to work on your Early Action and/or Early Decision applications. The extra time devoted to the college search now will help make the process more manageable later on.