Starting Your College Search is Easier Than You Think
College planning simply means setting yourself up to be most successful by thinking ahead.
A common mistake I see students make is starting their college search and planning too late. Life gets busy and deadlines get close, and the last thing you want to do is rush the process. "College Search" may seem like a daunting term, but think of it as simply as brainstorming your dream environment and exploring future opportunities. College planning simply means setting yourself up to be most successful by thinking ahead. So, where should you start?
- Consider this: what are you are good at and what do you love to do? This is the first building block to selecting a college major and a future career. For example:
- Have a great eye for design and love art? Perhaps you're a future graphic design, marketing, or architecture major.
- Love numbers and working out solutions to problems? Perhaps you're a future accountant, forensic accountant, or researcher.
- Love working with your hands and really get science? Perhaps you're a future marine biologist or engineer?
There are so many exciting options out there for you. To get a sense of what you would learn and what career paths you could take from various majors, try checking out our programs page.
Once you have a general idea of your interests, you can begin searching for colleges that offer these programs. Try doing online searches simply for colleges that offer the majors you've identified. I advise you not to consider other factors such as cost or location at this time. Try not to bias yourself by making assumptions about whether or not you can afford a college or whether or not the location is right. This allows you to keep an open mind and perhaps discover a new place that sparks your interest.
You can also consider seeking out a summer job or summer camp that gives you an opportunity to explore your interests more deeply. For example, check out our Summer Academy in Architecture and Marine Biology Camp.
- Now that you know what you're good at and what you enjoy, choose your high school classes wisely. Are you challenging yourself in those areas? Do you have the option to take higher level classes in those subjects? Colleges like to see students challenge themselves through senior year – don't let your foot off the gas!
Taking risks allows you to grow. Taking the right risks is key! If you really do "get" science, why not try that honors or AP class? Why not try out physics even if it has a reputation for being challenging? Use your confidence in your ability and your genuine interest to go in optimistically, and take advantage of extra help when you need it! Spoiler alert – support is there for you in college, too. Students who take advantage of professors' office hours, the tutoring center, and learning labs are more successful. Why not start now? Check out our Center for Student Academic Success to get an idea about the types of supports offered.
- You won't know until you're there. You should start thinking about your ideal college environment (suburban or urban? large or small student body?), but visit as many types of college campuses as you can. Sometimes you don't really know what clicks until you experience it in person. If you have a few colleges local to you that offer different settings, visit each of them – even if you don't think you'll apply. It's OK to visit campuses primarily to get a feel for different environments. RWU offers tons of visit opportunities, so take us up on the offer!
Another fun fact – many colleges offer virtual campus tours. If you're interested in places farther from home, a virtual tour is a good way to get a feel before making the investment to travel to the school.Check out our virtual campus tour (also available in Spanish)!Tips and Advice Blog