It’s your junior year of high school, and you’re eagerly awaiting all the treats your senior year has to offer — prom, senior privileges, graduation and college decisions! But try not to put off college visits, tours or interviews to your senior year. Exploring your college options during your junior year will give you more time to find the college that is perfect for you.
Here are three reasons why you should visit colleges during your junior year.
1. Get a better sense of what you’re actually looking for in a college.
Are you not quite sure what your ideal ‘dream school’ looks like? Don’t worry! If you start visiting colleges during your junior year, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out what you do or don’t like. You can visit plenty of different kinds of schools — large, small, private, public, conservatory or vocational. Your options become limitless!
Maybe you already have an idea of which colleges you’d like to apply to. Visiting them early can help you narrow down and categorize your choices. You can get a better feel of which schools might be a reach to get into, which ones are in your target zone or which ones are good safety schools. You’ll also get a better feel for your favorites, and can spend more time on the applications for those schools.
2. Get a better sense of what colleges are looking for in students.
You probably won’t start working on your college applications until the summer before your senior year at the earliest. Visiting colleges and talking to tour guides or admissions counselors before you apply can help you gauge what the college is looking for in applicants. Then, you’ll have plenty of time to tailor the essay or free response portions of your application to that particular college!
Visiting colleges during your junior year will also let you get acquainted with different college campuses before you’re in the throes of your senior year. Maybe you only visit large, sprawling campuses at first, and decide a big school isn’t the best choice for you. Since you visited months before you have to apply, you still have time to peruse your options, and check out some smaller schools or schools with a more ‘intimate’ feel.
3. Find out what it will take to succeed at different schools.
You can only learn so much about a school from its website. Success in college isn’t all about academics — every school has a different campus culture, as well as particular ways that classes are constructed (large lecture or small seminar classes, or a mix?). Plus, the community surrounding a campus varies. Visiting early will give you time for a reality check — can you see yourself spending the next few years of your life at this school? Is a school located in the midst of an expensive city that you can’t afford right now? Can you see yourself fitting in with the students you see hanging around campus?
Visiting colleges during your junior year will also motivate you to finish strong. It’s easy to get distracted with all the excitement of senior year, and to lose sight of your academics a bit. But once you’ve been to college campuses and had a little taste of the college scene, you’ll be inspired to keep your grades a top priority so you can get accepted to the school of your dreams!
Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to put thought into your college applications and decisions. This time shouldn’t be stressful — it’s exciting! You get to plan the next steps of your life, and you have so many different options to choose from. Starting to explore these options in your junior year will help your final year of high school go smoothly, and you’ll be walking across that graduation stage before you know it!