When Should You Start Planning for College?

Resource Photo - When Should You Start Planning for College?

Some students begin preparing for college years ahead of time. Some parents set up college funds for their children immediately after they are born. Others procrastinate and put it off. Since the last year of high school tends to fly quickly, it is essential to understand the best time to start planning for college so that a solid path is set.

Sophomore Start

Although many people feel that the college years are far away for sophomores in high school, it is a good time to begin discussing college. It is a time to start thinking of places where a student may wish to attend. The best opportunity to get some ideas is at a college fair. Most high schools host one or two of these events each year. It is also the period when a student should become more serious with his or her extracurricular activities. When a person joins a club, it is a wise idea to take some kind of leadership role. In the classroom, it is smart to take some challenging courses. The fall of sophomore year may be a good time to take the PSATs as well.

Junior Year Hones Ideas

When a student becomes a junior in high school, it is time to become more specific about possible majors and college choices. By the end of the year, a list of five colleges should be selected and visited. Since universities like potential students to be well-rounded, it is wise to join a number of activities and sports, including organizations inside and outside of school. Volunteering in the community looks impressive on college resumes as well. As a junior, it is time to begin thinking about financial aid.

Senior Year is Serious

With adequate preparation and planning, a senior should be very close to making a college selection. It is advised to take the ACT/SAT test early so that there is adequate time to take it again if necessary. Also, it is vital to submit FAFSA paperwork immediately after the year's taxes are completed. Seniors should discuss scholarship options with their guidance counselors and should fill out all admission applications. These may require letters of recommendation.

Getting Started Too Late

Even though it is recommended to begin planning for college early, some individuals will continue to put it off until they feel like it is too late. Some students are not sure that they are even ready to attend college. Today, it is quite common to take a year off after high school so that a person can gather his or her thoughts. College is a big and expensive commitment, so a person should be mentally prepared. A "gap year" provides extra time. Also, it may be possible to take a few general classes from a community college or to complete some online studies.

No matter when a person begins his or her college planning, research is vital. Finding the right program will enhance a person's future. Having enough time to uncover and follow the path is crucial. The above tips should help a student plan his or her college adventure so that nothing is left to chance.

Check out our College Planning Checklist to get started!

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