Introduction: Step-by-Step College Search

Walking around campus on your own is as important as taking a guided tour

The senior year is exciting for parents and students alike. As that long-anticipated end nears, you realize why that final ceremony is called commencement. After the ceremony and the graduation party, you realize it’s only just begun.

You know the next step is college. Choosing the right college can seem overwhelming. Taking one step at a time can make the process exciting and fun. Follow the steps here to help your student transition to college smoothly.

  • See your student’s counselor early and often. The counselor’s office has a wealth of information to help with every step of the decision-making process.
  • Picture your student’s ideal college. Try our SuperMatch® search engine, which allows students rank search criteria to find the best match for their interests and abilities.
  • Take virtual tours. Many schools’ websites feature virtual tours, which allow students (and parents) to get a glimpse into campus life through maps, photos of campus, videos, and student testimonials.
  • Visit the colleges. Virtual tours are helpful initially, but you and your student also need to visit the campus. If admissions and financial aid personnel meet your student, they’ll have a face and a story to match up with the paper application. Walking around campus on your own is as important as taking a guided tour; let your student decide if it feels right.
  • Make sure your student takes the necessary admissions tests. Do your student’s selected colleges prefer the ACT or the SAT?
  • Be sure your student applies early. Many colleges have early deadlines; some offer scholarships to those who apply before a certain date.
  • Help your student stay focused. Not only must your student select colleges, they must also succeed in the college-preparatory courses required for admission.

The best advice for you and your student is this: Don’t procrastinate. Begin early. Take one step at a time and have fun!


This article was written by Sally Wood

Sally Wood is a freelance writer and editor from Marionville, Missouri. She worked as a high school counselor in the Aurora R-VIII School District in Aurora, Missouri, from 1980–2000.

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