When it comes to the college process, do you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or confused? Believe us, you’re not alone! These are common emotions experienced by parents and students alike while navigating the college journey.

Career selection, college lists, scholarships and applications are just a few of the seemingly countless moving parts. So, where should you even start? That’s today’s topic!

Here’s what we know and believe in as college planning experts:

The foundation of a successful college process is accurate information, execution and timing. More specifically, the first step of any successful process requires a clearly defined outcome, a defined plan of actions and an appropriate timeline of execution. In other words, a successful college outcome rarely (if ever) just happens.

We want to help you through this process in a simple and practical way. Here’s the method that we believe will help you win the college game!

Middle School

This may seem a little early to start thinking through the college process, but it’s really never too early to start thinking about it! Now, in middle school, you don’t have to have it all figured out – what you’ll major in, what college you’ll go to, or what career you’ll end up in, but you can begin to think about a few things.

– Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: What are your best qualities? What subjects do you find yourself drawn to? What are you best at, both personally and academically?

– Identify Passions and Interests: Now that you’ve thought through some of your strengths and maybe eliminated some areas you’re not as strong in, what are your passions? What do you find interesting and thought provoking? What do you dream about or think about on a daily basis?

Asking these types of questions will encourage a student to begin to proactively consider and explore areas of interest. It also triggers the non-conscious mind to begin actively searching for and collecting related information. Most importantly, this information will provide an invaluable foundation for both a healthy HS Decision and decisions throughout the college process.

HS – Freshman / Sophomores

At this point in the journey, you’ve identified some areas of strength as well as things you’re interested in and passionate about. The first couple of years of high school, we want to narrow this focus even more. In middle school, your interests were probably all over the place – that’s normal and healthy! You should explore many different avenues. At this stage, we now want to think through narrowing that focus even more. You don’t have to have the title yet – “I want to be a nurse… a doctor… a lawyer…” – just begin to work towards the areas you’re most interested in.

HS – Juniors

Now, you’ve been on a journey of learning more about yourself, your strengths and your interests. This year, we want to narrow down your potential options into 4-5 areas. You also want to narrow down things that are more closely related. For example, your 4-5 areas shouldn’t consist of a doctor, an artist, a banker, etc. They should be more focused into similar areas of interest. If you’re having trouble narrowing these down, no problem! We have resources and assessments that can help you through this. Just reach out any time! By the end of your junior year, your focus will be more narrow and you can start to narrow down colleges that might be a good fit.

HS – Seniors

By this point, you’ve developed a college list, and you’re executing the plan that’s been building up to this. Because you’ve been diligent in thinking through these things for years now, this part of the process is a whole lot easier!

Remember: Start early, build through the process gradually, and by your senior year, the college process will be far easier and simpler as well as putting you on the track to where you want to be.

As always, if you have any questions, reach out and we’ll be glad to help!