If you are a high school junior and planning on going to college, it's time to get started. Here are five things to do now.
- Update your email address. Colleges will communicate with you by email and you want to be sure that your email address clearly identifies you and gives a good first impression. This email address should be professional and separate from your personal email address. (Don't use nicknames or names of your favorite sports teams.) Once you begin applying to colleges, make sure to check this email address often.
- Start a college calendar. This should include important test dates and deadlines. Ask your guidance office about test dates for the PSAT. Check www.collegeboard.org for SAT test dates and www.act.org for the ACT test dates and add all of these dates (including registration deadlines) to your calendar.
- Check out schools that you may wish to visit. Start out locally just to get a feel for what a college campus feels like. Think about what factors matter to you -- location, size, course offerings. Go to open houses and find out about any college fairs. Add these dates to your college calendar.
- Talk to your parents. Open communication is key here. What are their expectations? What are yours? For example, if Mom or Dad want you to go to their alma mater and you have other ideas then talk it out. Now's the time for all of you to be on the same page.
- Identify your interests and priorities. What subjects do you do well in? What careers pique your interest? What kinds of programs are you considering? Why do you want to go to college? Your college experience is all about you, so you need to be honest with yourself about your preferences. So, if you like to ski, for example, it may be a waste of time to look at colleges in Florida. As close as you may be with your friends, you want to choose the college that best fits your preferences and interests, even if it doesn't match theirs. That's what they will be doing as well. Your answers to the questions above may change during the coming months, but they will give you a solid place to begin your college search.