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Jill Haley: It’s all about the college list

Jill Haley
Columnist

KNOW & GO

WHAT: A free college workshop, Paving the Road to Your Future: Seven Important Steps to Begin Now

WHEN: April 19, 2 p.m. WHERE: Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City

MORE INFO: Contact Rose Murphy at rose.advantagecounseling@gmail.com

You have done everything right — the volunteer hours, great grades and test scores and now it is time to pick colleges to apply to. This is where it gets complicated. Making your college list is an important decision and one that most students don’t spend enough time thinking about.

So how does a student go about picking colleges they wish to attend? Most get advice from well-meaning family and friends and go on college visits during spring break. This all good and valuable, but if you don’t take the time to really look at what’s important in making your list you are making a mistake.

First of all, decide what kind of learning environment you will be most successful at. Do you excel in lecture based classes with the opportunity to work with professors in a research capacity? If your answer is yes, you might want to consider attending a large public college like the University of California campuses. If you do better in smaller settings with daily access to professors, a small liberal arts college might work well for you.

And let’s not forget about location. It’s important to identify how close to home you want to be. Are you the kind of student that will be happy coming home just a few times a year, or do you see yourself visiting on a more frequent basis? This should be important in deciding what colleges to put on your list.

If you know the major you will be pursuing, pick colleges that specialize in your field. CollegeBoard has a good search tool for finding out what majors are offered at colleges in their Big Future feature on their website. If you are unsure of a major, look at colleges where you don’t have to declare a major until the end of your Sophomore year and offer a wide variety of majors to choose from.

Access to extra-curricular opportunities such as at athletics, or visual and preforming arts can be of great importance to students. Each college website will list activities it offers for students as well as the availability of sororities or fraternities.

If you haven’t thought about whether you can afford to attend a certain college, you should. There is financial aid available at public colleges and universities, and yes, it’s also available at private colleges. Each college website has a net price calculator that allows you to put in income information and student’s GPA and test scores to get an estimate of how much financial aid a student might be eligible for.

How many colleges should be on your list? My recommendation is nine, and all nine should fit the factors that you have determined are most important to you based on location, major, extra-curricular activities and cost. College applications are time consuming and expensive, so do your research before applying.

A free college workshop, Paving the Road to Your Future: Seven Important Steps to Begin Now, will be held on April 19 at the Madelyn Helling Library beginning at 2 p.m. For more information contact Rose Murphy at rose.advantagecounseling@gmail.com.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.


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