Summer break is just a couple of weeks away, with a new group of students as rising seniors, poised to tackle college applications head-on. The moment this happens, students begin to hear choruses of “where do you want to go to college next year?” But please remember: most students will not, and should not, have an answer to this just yet.
In the United States alone, there are more than 3,000 options for higher education, ranging from large state universities to tiny private colleges. There are schools that tend to be more career-focused and others that emphasize a well-rounded liberal arts education. And within each of these schools, there are a range of academic departments and educational opportunities. Many universities house smaller conservatories, honors colleges and specialized programs. At the start of summer, students should be keeping their options open, exploring the different types of schools available, researching the range of programs within the schools and doing the legwork to find a lists of schools that prove to be just the right fit for them.
College names that students invoke early in the process often come from influences that will not necessarily translate to the best fit for them. Students are often influenced by a school’s brand name, athletic team, or by where a friend chose to attend. By taking the time to complete a full college search, reading up on schools, attending official tours and college fairs, and talking to counselors, teachers and mentors, students will find themselves learning about and often drawn to different, and sometimes previously unknown, schools boasting qualities more aligned to their interests and aspirations, be it an academic program, location, size or campus culture. Ideas will evolve over the next eight months prior to a student hitting their last submit button and may even continue to evolve between then and decision day. One student who worked with us last year was dead set on attending an Ivy League. Still, during the application period, she kept her options open and applied to a wide-range of schools. In the end, a full-ride offer from UC Berkeley changed her mind, and she couldn’t be more excited about being a Bear next year.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t any rising seniors who know exactly where they would like to go to college or that they are all destined to change their minds. But it remains equally important for these students, even those who have known for years where they would want to go, to keep an open mind. Admission is never a guarantee. As US TODAY College mentioned in their recent article “5 Pieces of Summer Advice for Rising High School Seniors”, having an open mind and finding multiple programs that a student is excited about increases their “chances of gaining admission to a college that [they] truly want to attend.” And as a bonus? “Knowing that [a student has] identified two or more high-quality backups for [their] dream school can boost [their] confidence as [they] begin the college admissions process.”
Regardless of where a student stands in their college search, from having a full list of researched schools that have caught their eye already to staring at a blank piece of paper wondering how to sort through thousands of options, summer is the perfect time to start exploring. Not sure where to start? Well, in Los Angeles, we are lucky to have a plethora of different types of schools in driving distance. Take a tour of USC to see what a large, urban-based private school is like. Head on up to UC Santa Barbara to try on a state school in a college town. Wander over to Occidental to get a feel for a small, liberal arts college. Just get out there and start exploring! This early in the game, you never know what will catch your eye!
At Mosaic College Prep we pride ourselves on
tailoring the application process uniquely to
each student. By taking into consideration
individual personality and past performance,
our independent college counselors match
students to the best colleges to help them
meet their goals and aspirations.
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