For most of us, high school or secondary is simply a pathway on to higher learning. And selecting that higher learning option starts well before the end of high school. In many cases, it starts two years before you even become a senior. Choosing the right program can take years to do properly although many students make last minute decisions and love them.
Identify Your Interests and Abilities
At some point youíll need to have a harkening about your true interests and abilities. We all want to be doctors or veterinarians at the age of eight, but now that youíre getting close to eighteen is that really an option for you and do you even want it to be? Some people are lucky enough to know early on exactly what they want to do for the next fifty years. The rest of us have to find our way, but knowing where you stand academically and interest-wise will give you focus moving forward.
Counselors in your school can point you to some terrific interest surveys or you can find one online to see what sorts of fields you might like. As you look into those interests, bear in mind your academic abilities. We canít all be perfect students and if youíre hoping to go premed but never got above a C in science, you either need to up your game or look at some other options in the medical field that might be more your style. The medical field is huge, and itís not just doctors and nurses out there.
Look at School Programs
If youíre completely undecided on what to study, your options are wide open when it comes to inspecting colleges and universities. But if you know you want to go into accounting or finance or other specialized fields, choosing the right school
can be a significant boost to your future career. Businesses scout new employees from colleges based on the reputation of that schoolís program. Research the individual programs at different schools you think sound interesting to see which programs are the best fit for your interests and abilities. National rankings for schools and programs are available in many magazines and scholarly articles.
Visit the Campus
Once your list is reasonable narrow, visit the campuses of the schools to see how the campus feels to you. Arrange a formal tour if one is available on the campus. Each college website will have information about tours and opportunities for prospective students. Absolutely take a tour, even if you know everything already (or think you do). These tours can show you things you might be surprised about and give you more information about individual university programs. Youíll also have the opportunity to ask questions of the tour guides. Narrow your selection based on the campus visits.
Meet the Criteria and Apply Early
All of your campus visits and information gathering should be done in your sophomore or junior year of high school. By the time youíre a senior, itís time to get those last few credits and start applying. College applications go out as early as August of your senior year, sometimes even earlier, and you can have a decision about school made by Christmas if you have all of the things you need. If youíre not ready that early, you can wait until after you graduate, but the majority of applications for most schools are out before Christmas of your last year of high school.