Saint Joseph's University

The College Search Process: What To Do in Your Sophomore and Junior Years to Prepare

You blinked, and now you’re halfway through your high school career. What’s next? If college is an option for you, you’ve stumbled upon a great blog for advice! There are many moving parts in the college search process, and this blog will help you prepare for your future in higher education.

 

 

Self Reflection

Admittedly, this is the least fun part of the entire process, but trust me—you’ll learn a lot about yourself through this step! Focus on what is important to you. Do you like large classes? Small classes? What about living in the city? Are athletics important to you? What about Greek life?

 

By asking yourself a few simple questions about your likes and dislikes in areas such as class size, location, and activities, you’ll be able to pinpoint a great start to your research!

For example, if you know you want to be in an urban setting with lots of students, try a quick Google search with phrases like, “colleges in cities,” or, you could get more specific, like, “colleges in Philadelphia.”

Once you narrow down where your interests lie, I am certain you will be able to find a handful of colleges or universities that check all of your boxes!

 

Research and Compile 

 

By now, you’ve likely found a dozen or more schools that catch your interest. Write them down! Make a list of your findings and take notes about what exactly interests you about that school. Indicate, in some way, your interest level in each of the schools you wrote down. Rank them. Create a “pros” and “cons” list. Do something that works for you! Consider which of these schools you would like to visit. Your highest ranked schools are going to be the ones you want to see in person!

 

 

 

Visit

Most colleges host daily visits, weekend programs, and special programs. Which one are you supposed to sign up for? At this point in the process, it is best to attend a college’s daily visit session. You’ll likely get a tour of campus, and perhaps an opportunity to speak with your admission counselor.

 

Be sure to take notes and photographs of each college that you visit! This will help you later when you are deciding which schools you want to apply to. You’ll have tangible documentation about things such as student housing, location, facilities, and more. Trying to piece together each individual visit later on in your brain may become complicated, as many things tend to fuse together!

Experiencing the colleges on your list in person is imperative to the selection process. How are you supposed to know if you will thrive in this environment without experiencing it? At the end of your visit to each school, ask yourself one question: “Can I spend the next four years of my life here?” You’ll know exactly how to proceed based on your answer.

If you cannot physically visit one of the schools on your list due to a scheduling conflict, distance, etc., the next best thing is visiting that school’s social media pages. Check Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter to get an idea of the vibes!

Protip: If you have to miss a day or part of a day at school, ask the college admissions office for a note to excuse you from class!

 

By following these few simple steps, you will have taken a huge first stride in the college search process. Having a little bit of background knowledge and the experience of a handful of college visits will put you in a more comfortable place, so that when you are ready to apply to the schools you fell in love with, you have a greater understanding about who they are and what they have to offer students like you!

 

– Monica Miller, Admissions Counselor