College Planning: July is for Beginning Your College Journey


If you want to attend a top-tier college, then you'll want to get started on the college admissions process as soon as possible. Those who start early have a better chance of positioning themselves for admissions success at top-tier and Ivy League schools.  Early planning will give you an edge over other high school students so that when the application starting guns fire, you'll be ready to hit the ground running. The resources below will help you plan for college with professional advice on college admissions topics including PSAT/SAT prep, choosing the best high school courses, college research, summer jobs, and more.

There are many factors to consider when determining college readiness. Some of these may be tangible, and some may be intangible. If a student is not “ready” to go away to college, there are alternatives available. Ready?

  • Has the student taken a rigorous curriculum and performed well? We analyze this by looking at transcripts and A-G-approved courses.

  • How are the student’s standardized test scores? We discuss the scores and what they mean in relation to various colleges.

  • Is the student mentally prepared to be “on his/her own”? This determination is made through authentic assessment (discussions and activities)

  • How far away from home is the student prepared to go? We use questionnaires  for parents and students to answer this question

  • What kind of extracurricular activities has the student been involved in? We help focus students in particular areas.

  • Has the student taken a leadership role in any activities? We also help guide students in this area.

  • What does the student do in his/her spare time? We discuss what colleges are looking for and make suggestions for a better college resume.

  • Does the student have any special talents? Music, dance, theater, athletics?

  •  Not ready yet? We discuss the pros and cons of alternatives.

  • Gap year: travel, work?

  • Community College?

​Early College Planning

Making The College Connection-Junior-Prep guide
Planning Ahead: Getting a Jump on Standardized Testing
Beginning Your College Search

For Homeschooled College Applicants: An Exception to Every Rule
Start Early Aiming High and Soaring- 4 Scholarships Myths
College Visiting

Are you seeking more in-depth, individualized college planning advice? Check out Soar's college admissions consulting services to help you create a winning college admissions strategy and to plot your personalized map to your top choice college today!

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 availability an important factor. It is quite difficult to receive an engineering degree from a college that
does not have an engineering program.

How to Prep for College in High School