Do your homework! Start from the beginning with these quick suggestions.
• Define your needs. Ask yourself the following questions to start assembling a preliminary list: What do I want to study? Am I seeking a broad-based liberal arts school or a school with a professional major? Do I want a public or a private school? What size do I want? Do I want to be close to home? Do I want to be in a city, town, suburb, or rural location? What atmosphere do I want: conservative or liberal? Serious or fun? Do I want a single-sex college or one with a religious affiliation?
• Use the Internet. You will find several Web sites that can help you compare and contrast schools and give you some basic information.
• Contact colleges directly through their Web sites and put yourself on their mailing lists. In addition to information, you will automatically receive their applications in the mail the summer before your senior year.
• When taking the PSAT or the PACT, fill in the bubble allowing schools to contact you. You will be contacted by colleges that believe your scores and profile indicate that you could potentially be a successful and /or interesting applicant.
• Ask questions of older high school students about the application process. Peers who have been through it may have words of wisdom. However, beware: There are thousands of colleges and universities across the country; your match may not be the same as your friends’ matches, so investigate the schools that are right for you.