Coyote chased Roadrunner. Indiana Jones and Monty Python both looked for the Grail, but only one of them found it (spoiler alert: he lost it again). Now you get to join the explorer’s club as you begin The Quest to Find the Right College for Your Future.
But where do you start? How do you get this train rolling? Good questions. That’s why we’re here. Consider this post a secret treasure map to your very own cache of college gold.
Start with a Trip Inside
Your time at college is exactly that—YOUR time. It should reflect your interests, your goals, and your curiosity. It’s your time to expand your thinking to learn more about the world and how you’ll fit into it.
Begin your college search with some quiet thinking. Take your brain somewhere you can concentrate. Bring along a journal, notepad, or whatever you prefer writing on. Ask yourself some serious questions about what you see ahead. List the classes, subjects, or activities you really enjoy. Use this as a starting point for thinking about degree options and future careers.
Take a Personality Test
No, we don’t me one of those “which pop singer are you” social media tests. We’re talking about real assessments backed with real research that offer insights on your interests, skills, general strengths and weaknesses, and even potential career paths.
These tests don’t judge your goals or try to steer you toward a particular outcome. Whether you want to be a doctor, baseball player, farmer, or run the family business, the test just accepts your answers and gives you honest feedback, which makes a big difference at moments like this.
Seek Guidance from a Counselor (or Maybe Your Teacher)
Do you have a favorite teacher or guidance counselor at your high school? It might sound odd, but they can often give you great advice about possible majors or future careers. They can also often connect you with professors at nearby universities who study topics you find interesting.
Your parents probably call this kind of thing “networking,” but we think of it as making smart connections.
Consult Your Parents
Speaking of your parents, you need to sit down with them as you begin your college search to talk about things like budgets, savings, and other financial things. College is an investment, so you need to know what’s available and how to make it go as far as possible.
Your parents can also help you explore career options. They probably know people working in jobs that catch your interest, so ask for their help. (Yes, it might feel a little weird, that’s okay. Just go with it. It’s all good in the end.)
Take Your Search Online
Now that you thought through some ideas about your interests, strengths, and career paths, hop online and start searching. Lots of helpful sites out there walk you through everything from financial aid and scholarship options to locating schools that offer interesting degree programs.
Remember to look at the websites for your local options, too. Going to school close to home typically helps you keep costs low. If you feel a little iffy about college in the first place, starting at a local school offers a chance to build your confidence.
Try a College Fair
As you continue searching online, take time to attend a college fair at your high school or on a local college campus. Fairs let you meet representatives from schools, ask questions, and set up campus visits. They make a great addition to your online search because someone can answer questions and make recommendations on the spot.
Looking for some planning help as you start the college search? Download our free Ultimate College Decision Timeline to guide you through the process!