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What tips do you have for high school juniors who are launching their college searches virtually this spring?

A: Chase Harvey

Okay, let's be honest. Applying to college is a scary process! I particularly wanted to be as prepared as possible, but was afraid of the actual process of deciding where to apply. My advice is to learn about the schools that peak your interest. You don't need to know about every school and everything about the school to be interested in applying. Although you may be concerned with the concept of only researching schools virtually, it is totally okay to not go on a tour of a school. The admissions office understands that travel can often be complicated, expensive, and time consuming. Many students do not visit all the campuses they apply to during the college search process. As a side note, I did not go on any tours of schools in person due to the oncurring pandemic! Next, I'm going to give some tips in general about applying to colleges and researching them.

My largest piece of advice is that you should not apply to a school simply because of its name! Take time to decide if you would actually like to attend that school, so start early. Also, try to figure out what type of school you believe you would like. This could be whether you want a public state school or private liberal arts school; or it could be whether you want a school in the Northern part of the US or maybe somewhere a little warmer? I applied to a wide variety of schools, because I still did not know where I wanted to go by the time applications were due.

Also, take some time to potentially look into what the student life is there socially and academically if either of those are important to you. It could be really helpful to look into the departments you're interested in majoring in. Another thing to consider especially as a junior is financial aid. When I was a junior, I did not prioritize financial aid in my college search. This made the idea of not committing to some schools apparent when I realized they were not as affordable as I had hoped.

Another gigantic piece of advice, do not let the summer go to waste! Take time during summer to let the concept of college be absorbed. In addition, have fun during the summer! It is the perfect time for you to have fun with your friends and to take a break before you realize you are growing up.

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