Have You Started The College Search?

If you’re a high school Senior {or Junior} you should be starting the college search. Life goes pretty fast, but if you plan ahead, you can ENJOY IT ALL!

This week I’m writing about how to get organized for your college search and still HAVE FUN with all your high school lasts!

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Senior year is a celebration!

Celebrating the final homecoming week, last year being in the student section, last soccer game, music concert, play…

The ‘sames’ that should be on repeat are getting good grades, strong study habits, adding to your service hours and extracurriculars.

Then you come to the new side going into senior year…

Starting your college search junior year opens up more hours for you senior year. We all have the same amount of time.

But you feel like a magician who’s abra-cadabraed more than 24-hours in your day.

College visits, figuring out your top 3-5 colleges, filling out the Common App + FAFSA and other senior-only tasks can bibby-bobby-POOF your senior year time away.

Today I’m pulling out my magic wand {called a keyboard} to give you an easy checklist to start your college search!

Have you visited any colleges?

Will you be visiting more this Fall?


  • Does the college offer your major + other areas of study {18-year-olds are famous, even notorious for changing majors mid-way through}?
  • Are professors available to students {in + out of class}?
  • What are the class sizes for 100-200 level class + area of study?
  • Will the academic programs challenge you?
  • What are the internship + study-abroad opportunities?
  • Will the school offer financial aid?
  • How affordable is the school after any financial aid?
  • What’s life like outside of campus {city/town life, weather, distance from home}?
  • What athletics or arts does the campus offer?
  • What are the dining options?
  • Is career counseling available, along with alumni success stories {graduation rates}?
  • While you’re on campus does it feel like it could be a home away from home {is it a good fit for you}?

You’ve got your questions ready – what’s next?

September – February

1/ VISIT:: some campus’ in the Fall:: Most campus’ have scheduled visit days

2/ RANK:: your short list:: 3-5 schools is plenty to apply to

3/ STAY FOCUSED:: Colleges still look at your senior year grades + activities

4/ ACT/SAT:: If you haven’t done it already take the ACT or SAT in the Fall {you can re-take in the Winter + Spring}

5/ MAKE A LIST:: Start a spreadsheet with all the deadlines so you don’t miss out

6/ CONNECT WITH COUNSELOR EARLY:: Might surprise ya, but you’re not the only one asking your counselor to send transcripts or getting letters of rec – START EARLY

7/ COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATIONS:: Get your applications filled out + essay’s written for your short list schools.

8/ FAFSA:: 2020-2021 opens October 1 + some college scholarships are FIRST COME – FIRST GET!

9/ REVIEW COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID:: If you file early the award packages should arrive by late November – keep on top of your short list schools.

March – July

10/ LAST PREP:: Not happy with your ACT/SAT score then retake them one last time

11/ TIME TO CHOOSE:: Notify your lucky school by May 1 that you’re coming

12/ CONFIRMATION:: Have you received your FAFSA confirmation? Your award letter?

13/ GET TALKIN’:: Attend scheduled college events, connect with your roommate(s), go to the summer orientation

It’s a BIG YEAR, but remember to make it a FUN YEAR! Celebrate all the lasts this year + look ahead so you can go into the next chapter prepared and ready to live YOUR best college life.

TIME SAVER #1:: Common App opened August 1st. Save time by checking out which of your schools use Common App so you only have to fill out one application to send to multiple schools.

After talking to college admission advisors we discovered that the applications don’t say which are from Common App or filled out directly on the college website.

TIME SAVER #2:: Essay writing – Edit your main essay question in a document you save so you can revise it to fit future application essay’s when possible. Your focus still needs to be on your studies, activities, enjoying your LASTS…not obsessing over essay number nine that you need create.

Want More College Help?

Have a peek at these past posts::

Just Starting the College Search

5 Tips to Help with the College Search

College Tips 2.0

CHEERS & SPARKLES to your search!

💖Andrea | Shining Moments Photography

P.S. We started college visits sophomore year to get the easy questions out of the way…

  • Big – medium – small student body feels more comfortable?
  • Do big sports matter – don’t matter?
  • How far from home do I want to be?

It never hurts to get a head start, totally pain-free.

P.P.S. Know someone who’d like these tips? Be the SUPER FRIEND + e-mail this link so you all can HAVE FUN in these last high school years {or months}😉

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    Shining Moments Photography | Sycamore, IL | 815.751.2247