Where It All Begins: The College Search

Written by Leah Campano |
Featured image via bc.edu

The spring of junior year is often bombarded with college-entry tests and the start of the exhausting college search.  Spring break is riddled with college visits, forcing students to walk around a number of campuses rather than spending their time off with friends.  For some, visiting various colleges and universities is familiar because of older siblings who have already gone through the process.  By the time I was thirteen, I had already visited a collection of schools from New York to Virginia, but only because I was forced to accompany my older sisters.  However, for others, searching for colleges is a new and unfamiliar experience.  Many may feel overwhelmed, unsure where to even start looking because of the 4,000+ colleges and universities there are to consider.  The added pressure of taking SATs, SAT II Subject Tests, ACTs, and AP tests doubles the stress we already feel.

The end of the school year is fast-approaching and seniors are either deciding where to attend school in the fall or have already chosen.  With that, they have a ton of advice regarding how to handle the stress that comes with the college process. Senior Kaitlyn Conway explained how she began her search:  “I knew what location I wanted to be in, which made it easier to narrow down which schools I wanted to look at.  I knew I did not want to be in state, but I also didn’t want to be a plane ride away. I looked at big universities and smaller colleges and decided I definitely wanted a smaller school in a surbuban area.”  Kaitlyn will be attending Lasell College in the fall in Newton, Massachusetts, only about twenty minutes from Boston.

Most seniors stressed the importance of looking for schools that have the majors you’re interested in.  If you have no idea what you want to do, make sure you look at liberal arts schools that aren’t specified.  For example, if you are uncertain as to what you want to major in, don’t go look at schools that are predominately science oriented.  Guidance Counselor Mrs. O’Brien said:  “The college planning process can seem overhwhelming in terms of SATs/ ACTs and a potential college list.  However, if I could stress anything, it would be that for those interested in college, don’t wait until the last minute. Break the process down into small parts so when they enter their senior year, they are more or less at that point where they could talk about the application process. If a student or parent is not sure what their next step should be, give guidance a call! Don’t be shy, we want to work with you.”

On April 4, 2014, forty-two juniors attended the Hartford College Fair and gained a lot of information on different schools.  The fair gave them all a better idea of what schools they wanted to look at and how well of a “fit” it would be.  Junior Erin Barnett said:  “The college fair was very beneficial. It allowed me to get a better look at some schools I was interested in looking at, such as, Penn State, Ohio State, Marist, and Salve Regina.”

Various websites also offer college search engines to help compile a list of schools you may want to consider.  The College Board’s website has a college search page that blatantly states, “You have 3,957 college options” – and that’s daunting enough to make you want to narrow down your search.  There is a sidebar that has numerous filters, such as, test scores and selectivity, location, paying, etc. The ACT website is an additional site with a college search engine.

To visit the College Board’s college search page, click here.
To visit the ACT’s college search page, click here.

4 responses to “Where It All Begins: The College Search

  1. I remember the college process! It was very stressful at times but you feel relieved when its all done especially when you later decide the college you are definitely going to. The college search on the collegeboard website was very helpful because it helped narrow the searches down to what you were looking for in the school such as location, size, and majors available. Great Article!

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  2. Great article Leah! The content of this article is great for the junior class. I agree with Erica that this article is very beneficial for the junior class as you all prepare for the college application process. I will say it is definitely stressful, but once it’s finished, it will be a giant relief. Again, great article and I like how you mentioned the college fair that happened recently as well as you interviewed both seniors and juniors! Great job!

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  3. It’s a really great idea to write an article about this for the juniors, especially this time of the year. A lot of them will be going on college visits this summer and finalizing their lists of colleges they’ll be applying to. The Common App opens at the end of the summer, too

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