Advice from a senior: start your search early

Grant Rayfield, Online Editor

It’s nearing the end of your sophomore year, and you’re looking forward to a great summer of lazing around and watching Netflix. But your mom has been telling you lately that you need to start thinking about college, to which you inevitably rolled your eyes in disgust at such a chore. You think to yourself, “College is still more than two years away, so why should I think about it now?”
Well, if four years of high school has taught me anything, it’s that your mom might not be completely crazy. The college application process has only gotten only more complex over the years, and a large part of your college search hinges on what you plan to major in. You most likely have no idea what major you want to go into, but that’s okay; you have time to consider your options. The most important thing right now is that you actually start to consider your options; colleges that focus on engineering, sciences, medicine, or liberal arts each look vastly different from each other, so based on your choice of major or interest, the colleges that you should consider are vastly different from each other. After all, there are between 16,000 and 23,000 universities in the world, and you have to pick one.
But again you ask yourself, why now? Well, once junior year starts, spending time to sift through colleges will only get more difficult, as junior year tends to bear the most difficult classes. Moreover, Early Action and Early Decision programs each have deadlines between October and December of senior year, so you’ll need to know the exact schools to apply to by the beginning of senior year. Early Action and Early Decision are two programs that can help with your college search because by making these deadlines, you demonstrate greater interest to schools that you choose, giving you a better chance of getting in. These programs also can save you from the trouble of applying to as many colleges since you get a response from either long before the regular application deadline. I applied to my top school via Early Action, and since I was accepted, I did not have to apply to any other colleges.
You will also need to begin considering where you can afford to or would want to consider going, even as soon as sophomore year. If you really have no idea where you can and would like to go, you can always hedge your bets by preparing for a college or trade school that offers everything you would consider going into. Even still, this is not to say that you have too little time to consider your options and plan accordingly – it just means that waiting to the last moment is not to your advantage.