“Education is the best provision for life’s journey.” – Aristotle. Choosing a college can be one of the most important decisions a teenager will ever make. Throughout high school students are constantly reminded of continuing their academic pursuit and education by choosing the right university that will lead them on the path of success. But many students find the vital task of picking a college complicated and confusing. Choosing which subjects they may want to major in and which colleges they want to explore can be overwhelming, but knowing what steps to take will help any high school student prepare for college.
Ms. Palumbo, the Director of Guidance at St. Joseph High School, summarized college preparation as a “long, slow process.” She said, “This process can start as early as elementary school, when young kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. It starts off very basic and broad.” As those young kids reach junior high and high school, they are shown how their career choices translate into the real world. Once in high school, students are encouraged and even offered many opportunities to explore colleges, through college fairs, seminars, and even meeting with representatives from different colleges in the state.
In high school, the college preparation process starts to narrow slowly as students learn and explore their options more vividly, as they check into the colleges of their choice and learn the differences between them. “An important goal to make as a sophomore, junior, or senior,” says Ms. Palumbo, “is determining which subjects you would like to major in and which classes you would like to partake in within that discipline.” This in no way implies having your entire future career already planned out, but instead you should determine what you are interested in and take the classes that are best for you. Many students enter college uncertain about their career choice, so it is important to explore different options if you are unsure about your future. Also, don’t feel that what you major in automatically determines your future career. For example, majoring in science doesn’t mean that you have to be a scientist when you grow up. Your majors can open up many different paths that are still in the same field, so don’t be afraid to take classes you enjoy. Ms. Palumbo put it in the simplest way, “Do what you love.”
With majors in mind, the process narrows even more starting in senior year. Perhaps the most important year of high school, with regards to college, seniors can start thinking about which colleges they would like to go to. This step, being so important, can confuse many students because it seems very overwhelming. However, there are many online sources that can help students with this and they specialize in pinpointing which colleges would be best for a certain student. “During the students’ senior year we give them the opportunity to take online surveys in order to help them with choosing a college,” Ms. Palumbo explained. The surveys these online sources offer start out very general and simple, asking questions like, “Would you like to go to a private or a public college?” and “How far would you want to travel for a certain college?” After these broad questions, the survey narrows down by asking which classes a student would like to take, and by doing this, students can receive a list of colleges that best suit their needs. These, along with many other resources, such as counselors and academic advisors, can make choosing a college much easier and less aggravating.
Preparing for college is an extremely important time in a teenager’s life. Knowing which steps to take can make the process less overwhelming and will benefit you in the long run. Take some time to reflect on those careers that you find interesting, and explore the different colleges that you have in mind.