Students applying to college and narrowing down their search face a number of uncertainties; especially when they aren’t 100% sure that the college is the best fit. One way to reinforce confidence in the college application process is to make early college career planning a priority.
Making early college career planning a priority will give you and your family more time to explore college campuses, conduct independent, academic research, meet with college representatives and get a jump-start on financial aid. Doing so will help your family make much more informed decisions around your child’s education before they begin the application process.
Getting a Head Start on Career Planning for High School Students
Considering Early Decision or Early Action
Many still wonder whether or not applying for early decision or early action will have much of a difference over the January application deadline. According to the experts at Peterson’s, a practical tool for college planning:
“Statistics show that applying early something, particularly early decision (ED), which is binding, can have a positive tipping effect on your chances for admission. The ED commitment tells a college that if you are admitted, you will attend, so it takes the guesswork out of their admission process. They look for students who are in their academic ballpark, and often who can offer something particular to fill a need at the college (legacies, athletic recruits, special interest recruits, and so on). Even Early Action (EA), which is non-binding, can show some early interest and preparation.”
For those considering early decision, rejoice. But at the same time, consider meeting with your child’s school counselor to determine if this is the best route. Some students may benefit from waiting so they can continue to prove their academic readiness throughout the fall semester.
Speaking of academics, it’s important for your child to begin thinking of possible majors and minors while still in high school. In most cases, students aren’t required to select a major before they apply, however it will help them to make a more informed decision when applying to, and eventually enrolling in a college.
The process of selecting a college major will have to come from self-reflection on skills, interests and aspirations. If your child isn’t already set on a major, encourage them by asking a few basic questions that may help them make a final decision. For example:
- What are your favorite subjects?
- What type of work do you enjoy the most?
- Where do you see yourself in five-ten years?
It’s perfectly fine if your child isn’t 100% confident or certain in their answers; after-all it’s still very early. Asking questions early will get your child to start thinking about what is important to them and what major will help them land a career that will fulfill them for years to come.
Do Your Research
Once you have started to explore your child’s interests, skills and aspirations, you can start to search for colleges that meet these requirements. The most basic research can start on the internet and you can get a more personalized feel for the college through campus visits and speaking with a representative.
Not sure where to begin? Start with making a college checklist and conduct research on anything that will impact your child’s decision. Whether the financial aspect of higher education is a concern or your family values a culturally enriching community, use what is important to you and your family as a foundation for your research.