Starting Your College Search
Start your college search online. Think about possible areas of study, and begin your research on which schools offer your best plan of action. This is also a good time to discuss with your family what options are open to you based on family dynamics and finances: in-state vs. out-of-state colleges, public vs. private colleges, and 2-year vs. 4-year colleges. Once you take the PSAT/SAT, your mailbox and inbox will begin to fill with brochures from colleges wanting your attention. Use your technology skills to find out more information about schools which interest you. Go to area college fairs and meetings. In the fall, local school districts host college fairs/college nights where you can meet with representatives of as many as 200 colleges and universities across the nation. Also, there is an independent city-wide college fair each spring. These are wonderful opportunities to gather information.
Some universities hold their own “meet and greet” sessions here in Houston. Your research should provide you details if any of your potential schools plan a local meeting.
Visit local schools and take their tours. Even if your dream school isn’t among the local ones, each can offer you insight into college life and give you a taste of being on campus—a great motivator for many students as they can begin to see themselves actually living the college life!
Many universities have a designated Saturday for potential freshmen to visit, usually in the fall although some schools offer a spring option as well. On this day the university will offer tours and host information sessions for prospective students and their parents/guardians. This is a great opportunity to assess the campus, its lifestyle, its culture, and the academic expectations of the school. In addition, some college applications will actually ask if you have participated in any of the school’s opportunities for prospective students.
Use summers, holidays, and weekends to explore colleges. Plan some family/friends road trips to visit campuses, especially those in which you have an interest in attending but are too far outside the Houston area for a quick day trip. Ideally, you should visit any school to which you hope to apply. If possible, schedule your trip so that you can actually meet with admissions personnel as well as someone in the field of study in which you are interested. Not only do they offer helpful advice, but they also may keep track of applicants have paid them a visit.
Banff students are allowed two college days in their junior year as well as two more in their senior year. The college days, which DO NOT affect exam exemption status, allow students to miss school in order to visit colleges for tours, appointments, and testing. Students often take these days on Fridays or Mondays in order to have a long weekend to travel and explore the campuses. Ascertain appointments and tour times ahead of your trip, and plan your schedule carefully in order to maximize the usage of your time. In order to take an official college day from Banff, you must arrange it ahead of time and get it approved by Mrs. Wasser. In addition, upon your return to school you must provide proof that you were actually visiting a college; most admissions offices will provide a stamped form verifying your visit.