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Advice for Starting the College Search #JourneytoCollege

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She Speaks Kaplan DisclosureFor Sabreena’s entire high school career we were on her about making the right steps towards a positive and productive college choice. Unfortunately most of our advice fell on deaf ears.  This fall instead of attending the college of her choice she’ll be starting off at community college.

Our biggest hurdle through the college selection process was tuition costs. Sabreena was adamant about the 4 schools on her list and didn’t want to waver no matter how much we advised her that tutition costs should be a huge influence. When the acceptance letters came in her boutique school choice was just within reach. We went through enrollment, orientation, even picking a roommate but when the scholarships and grants didn’t come in as we had hoped her school of choice was no longer an option.

There was no back up either. We were left with a heartbroken girl that thought there was nowhere to go from here.

We urged Sabreena for 4 years to do as much research on scholarships and grants as possible. We urged her to take a look at the state university as a backup.  Everything was very overwhelming and time goes by quicker than you think.

My advice to families just starting the college search:Advice for Starting the College Search

  • Research every program your school, district or state offers to help with applications, career assessments, PSATs and of course grants and scholarships.
  • Join clubs and extracurriculars. If not for the experience of the activity or cause then use the time to establish connections that will be useful down the road when it comes time for recommendations and needing advice on college selections.
  • The cost of college tuition is at an all time. Paying for college is a huge undertaking and can cause a burden on family. Know how and where to look for scholarships to help offset that expense.
  • Be aware of your social media footprint. Studies show 71% of college admission officers are spending time checking out an applicant’s Facebook & Twitter page before making final decisions.

To ensure that students are receiving accurate and up-to-date information on trends in the college admissions process, Kaplan Test Prep annually surveys admissions officers from the top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities in the U.S.*

The survey data collected helps Kaplan provide informed guidance to tens of thousands of college applicants and their parents each year. The #JourneyToCollege should be paved in information and knowledge not obstacles.

Get your free 2014 KapMap College Planner and stay ahead of the curve.

Stay connected with Kaplan on Facebook or Twitter to stay on top of trends, changes to the SAT & ACT exams and learn more about what the admissions office is looking for in new or transferring students.

the image is adapted from College Path via Charles Clegg

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  1. Great post! There are SO many new things to consider when looking for a college to attend. 🙂

  2. I am still wrapping my brain around the fact that I need to start doing this for my “baby”…. any tips for that? LOL

  3. Great advice! My oldest is starting her senior year and we haven’t even begun searching for colleges yet. I better get on the ball!

  4. Some of the things our younger generation share on social media… ugh. Some kids might need a whole weekend to flush those out.

  5. I’m a few years away from preparing for college, but I know that it’ll be time before I know it. I would prefer my daughter stay close, but I know that isn’t her wish.

  6. Great tips. I don’t got to start thinking of college for like 10 years but I am already terrified at what the costs will be.

  7. Very cool and great advice! I can’t imagine looking at colleges with my kids! Can they stay young forever?!

  8. Eeek! My son is just starting Kinder. I’m going to be a mess when he starts looking at college. My friend’s kid is starting to look now – I will share this!

  9. I’m a few years out from doing this the first time . . . during which I wanted to rip every single hair out of my head. Between all the forms, the tours, the essays and the general chaos, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need each and every day spent from 2008, when Meg went to college, to 2024, when Gidget graduates, to recover. These are great tips and I wish I would have had the KapMap college planner when we were going through this with Meg.

  10. I need to hold onto these tips. My son starts high school next year and then comes college. I’m so not prepared for that.

  11. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter… My oldest is entering her senior year so we are in the thick of things when it comes to college search and applications. There is soooo much to think about and realistically you start planning as soon as they begin High School… We chose to work with a college counselor to prepare and it has been a real blessing. One of the things they work on with the student is making sure they have at least a couple of “safe” schools on their wish list, so no matter what they don’t ned up with no real option that is satisfactory to them. though I’m confident our daughter will end up in a school that she will like e still feel as though we started a little late with her, but we’ll be in top shape for our second who is entering 9th grade.

  12. Sorry to hear about her plan not working out. Did she come up with a new plan?

    College is a tough one for sure. I remember spending so long pouring over scholarships! These tips are all spot on! I hope that she is able to figure out the path she is meant to take.

  13. Sending this to my teen now! Starting her Junior year and I know it’s going to happen before we know it. Gotta get on the ball.

  14. My children are nowhere near the college age, but these are such wonderful tips!

  15. Christina A. says:

    I really like this post! I read some of it to my son. He is going into his junior year of high school and we just spent the last month touring several universities. I can only *HOPE* that he will take our advice to heart and see it through. It’s so hard for a 16 year old to even grasp the importance of such things. He went and liked the Kaplan page and we talked about the social media thing…71%…that’s a large number!

    Thanks for sharing this info!

  16. Oh lord, and I still need advice for just starting Kindergarten! lol Thanks! 🙂

  17. No harm in going to a community college, I did two years in a community college. I believe it got me prepare for the gruesome years ahead. Wish these resources were accessible when I was searching for college though – great information.

  18. It’s a really overwhelming time. I hope kids start to realize that their social media isn’t really private and it affects their future.

  19. There’s a lot to think about when choosing a school. I am still paying on student loans 10 years later, but it’s definitely been worth it to have my degree int he long run.

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