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If you are fortunate, you have an accessible and

knowledgeable guidance counselor available in

your high school. But as a recent survey from the

non-profit research group  Public Agenda indicated,

48% of recent high school graduates surveyed felt

their counselor viewed them as simply another

“face in the crowd.” If you have knowledgeable

and available resources at school, it’s a great

place to start. If not, other resources, such as

books and websites are plentiful.

Start by evaluating your academic profile, because that's what colleges will do first. Overall, you should plan to apply to a range of schools, covering a spectrum from “reach” to “likely.” Colleges will evaluate your application in the context of your high school. In general, the more competitive you are within your high school class, the more competitive a college you can apply to. Have you taken the AP, IB, or honors classes that are offered? Have you taken four or five solid academic courses each year? Are your test scores within or above the ranges cited by your target colleges? It might be easier to obtain “A’s” in less rigorous classes, but the most selective colleges will look for demonstrated rigor in a more challenging curriculum.

You might have a well-formed idea of your intended major, or you might join the largest freshman major on most campuses: “undecided.” How much of a role should your anticipated area of study play in your college planning? Honestly, it varies. If you have some interest in a specific field, like engineering, it’s important that you include in your search universities that offer such an option. The same holds true for nursing, business, architecture, and a few other select areas. Yes, you might change your major later – which is why selecting a college based upon an external ranking of a single division, like engineering, can be problematic. But if you have a serious interest, consider the availability an important factor. It is quite difficult to receive an engineering degree from a college that

does not have an engineering program.

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       College Planning: July is for Beginning Your College Journey