Super Tips for Getting Serious about Your College Search 

When it’s time to get serious about your college search, the amount of options, opportunities and information can be overwhelming. Denison University Director of Admissions Mike Hills has some great tips (in chronological order) that will center you and help you focus your energies to help find the best college for you.

  • Arrange a meeting early in your junior year with your guidance counselorto take stock of where you are and where you need to be. Remember, it is not the sole responsibility of your guidance counselor to get to know you, it is also your responsibility to get to know them.
  • Register for the PSAT. Taking the test as a junior will qualify you for some scholarship consideration.
  • Ask your counselor about upcoming dates for the ACT, SAT and SATII tests, and opportunities for test preparation. Consider taking both the ACT and SAT during the junior year, and in the fall of your senior year, retake the test that you are most comfortable with. Most colleges “superscore” these tests so you can only improve by retaking!
  • Create a resume of your school, community and work experiences. Note awards, recognition or leadership positions. This will be an important part of your college application.
  • Haven’t been too involved in activities? Now is the time to do so. While your high school grades are the most important part of your college application, most colleges will take into account your accomplishments outside of the classroom.
  • Keep up your grades…the junior year is very important.
  • Later in your junior year you will meet with your guidance counselor to develop your senior schedule. Take the most challenging classes that are within your capabilities.
  • Continue to investigate possible colleges by checking out their websites, attend local college fairs and attend information sessions from college representatives who visit your high school or area.
  • With the help of your guidance counselor, teachers, friends and family,begin to narrow your list of possible colleges. Be cautious about adding colleges to your list just because they are considered “prestigious.” Conversely, be open to schools with which you may not be as familiar.
  • Road trip! It’s time to plan on visiting a few colleges on your list. Your spring break is an excellent time for you and your family to begin visiting colleges. Keep in mind that the best time to visit is when the college is alive with students, classes are in session, faculty are accessible and the campus is buzzing with activity.
  • What should you do during your visit? Well, that’s up to you, but to get a true sense of a college’s personality, you should take a campus tour, have an admissions interview or attend an information session. You may also want to attend a class, meet with an athletic coach or club advisor, have lunch in the dining hall or spend a night in a residence hall.
  • Colleges want reinforcement of your personality, character and diligence from those in your school who know you well. So, before the end of your junior year, plan on reconnecting with your guidance counselor and contact a few teachers to write recommendations on your behalf.
  • Follow these tips, and you will be well prepared to find your ideal college!