When should students start the college search?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

When should students start the college search?

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

When should students start the college search?

Here is my video response to the question.

Robert Franek
Author of The Best 373 Colleges The Princeton Review

When should students start the college search?

Here is my video response to the question.

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

When should students start the college search?

After January of the junior year.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

When to Start? When You are Ready

Like so much of the college search process, when to start is more rooted in the individual than in any formula or age old wisdom. Exposure to college can begin at any age—a quick side trip or a campus drive through on a family vacation can offer a nice little preview but if the prospective student is not really ready, the effort will be for naught. I will never forget my family’s own vacation detour through the University of Virginia the summer before my oldest daughter was starting high school. As we came around a corner and the lawn and chapel came into view, my daughter exclaimed, “Mom, look.” I was thrilled, figuring that like so many before her she was instantly captivated by one of the most beautiful campuses there is, but when her next comment was “look at those beautiful bridesmaids dresses,” I realized we were a bit premature in our efforts, and so be it. Now as a senior she is fully engaged in the process and has already submitted multiple applications to schools on a list that was thoughtfully developed. Ultimately, like so much of the process it is all about find the right individual fit.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

It's never TOO Early...

What courses should I take in high school to prepare me for success in college and after? These are questions that begin as early as middle school, so there are some parts of the college search that need to begin there. More and more middle schools are offering high school courses and if you're really interested in preparing yourself for college acceptance and success, you need to be enrolled in these classes. By researching, "What courses are colleges looking for in a successful candidate," you will be better prepared to enroll in the right courses for you. As a high school student, you need to have a four-year plan early and it needs to be reviewed each year. Don't forget their are opportunities to accelerate through summer programs, online and dual enrollment options too!

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

The college search is a process. Allow it to be one. Fail to plan and you plan to fail. Begin by making a plan, and if you need assistance, seek out a qualified expert who is immersed in the process year in and year out. Finally, leave some space to grow. Often, parents buy their children clothes a size bigger because if there is anything for certain, it's growth. Keep an open mind because what you think you like (college-wise) may change over the course of your journey. Enjoy!

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Beginning the College Search

Thinking about college should begin way before high school in order to get in the college preparation courses. College visits can begin during family trips during sophomore year (so that you remember your impressions of the campus). Ideally, you should take the PSAT or PLAN as well during your Sophomore year. Trying to figure out what you require from a college should begin in earnest your Junior year and the research into colleges should go in depth during Junior year. When you walk into your high school in the Fall of your Senior year, it would be great if you have your college list lined up even if you still need time to finalize it.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

Beginning of Junior Year

It's best to start the beginning of junior year with the college search, this way you have an entire year to research schools, meet with admission reps at college fairs and visit the campuses. Senior year can be quite stressful in regards to the college process, so the more you do junior year and the earlier you start the better off you will be. My goal for all of my students is to have their college list finalized by the time they start senior year so we can focus on applications.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Begin in Earnest During Junior Year

Maintaining focus on academic success is the most significant way students can prepare for the college search process early in their high school career. Searching for colleges prior to junior year can prove distracting. Junior year is the ideal time to start the college search process because elements of a student's academic profile (grades, classes, tests scores) are more fully formed.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

When to start?

Thinking about college should begin when you start high school. Think about the fact that freshman grades do count. The summer before the junior year is probably the best time to really start searching...after you get to know yourself! Get as much as you can done before senior year. If you apply early you'll enjoy senior year more. Start visiting campuses during the junior year.