Junior year is critical! Not only should you continue to take challenging courses, make good grades, and be involved outside the classroom, but also this is the year to attend college fairs, schedule campus tours, begin your scholarship search, take the SAT and/or ACT, and ultimately select the four to six colleges that you will apply to next year. That sounds like a lot, but hopefully you spent your freshmen and sophomore years building the foundation so that this is just the next step in the process of planning for your future. Consider the basics of what you are looking for in a college: location, environment, size, majors, and co- curricular activities. While cost is also a factor, I encourage you not to rule out a school at this point because of the tuition. The cost of college can be compared to buying a car; rarely do you pay the “sticker price” on the window for a car and the same goes for college. The true cost of a college will not be determined until the colleges have prepared your financial aid package, and many pri- vate colleges have their own private endowments from which to give scholarships and grants. Therefore, while it is important to look at cost at this point, I would not eliminate a school that you are really interested in until you have seen the financial aid pack- age.

Once you have determined your preferences for a college, start searching for schools that match those preferences. With all your basics in mind, also consider what the colleges require of their ap- plicants. Does your GPA, your SAT and/or ACT score, the rigor of your high school course work, and your co-curricular involvement match what the college is looking for in a potential student? The only way to match your preferences with the collegesʼ preferences is to do research, and I encourage you to use Mr. Sarsany and Career Cruising as resources in this process because many off-line and on-line tools are out there to help you to figure out what college is right for you. Ultimately, you want to start your senior year with four to six colleges to which you plan to apply. The majority of the colleges should be target schools where your GPA and SAT/ACT scores match those of last yearʼs incoming freshmen. You can include a reach school with GPA and SAT/ACT scores above yours and include a likely school with GPA and SAT/ACT scores below yours. All of the schools should be places that you would be happy to attend.