I’ll pause this story to give you some advice: The earlier you start, the better! I didn’t take the time to read through the brochures or browse school websites and so I’ll readily admit that my college decision could have been more well informed. If you take the time out to look at possible colleges that interest you, the college process can change from work that you have to do to something to be excited about and look forward to.
The best place to start is with what you know. Any amount of information gathering you do will help you make a more well informed decision as opposed to putting your hands up and declaring there are too many colleges out there. Start locally, and set aside some time in your day every once in awhile to look at different colleges. A few minutes of browsing here and there will add up over time, and soon you’ll have a feel for what you like from certain colleges and which ones you really want to focus on getting into. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting, but the more ‘shopping’ around you do and the more thoroughly you do it, the chances are the happier you’ll be with your ultimate decision.
Also, it’s not always convenient to visit different college campuses but it’s a good idea to do it if you can. After I visited SUNY Albany’s campus, I was more pleased with my application pool and in hindsight I see that that visit helped influence my decision to eventually choose SUNY Albany as my college of choice.
A final thing I should mention is my high school grades. I was a pretty hard working student so I had a nice ‘track record’. By the time I started looking at colleges, the scores I would send in my applications had already been set and my work was done in a sense. (Often this is associated with ‘senioritis’). I mention it though because you have to see the importance of your first 3 years in high school – they are what colleges will look at as far as grades and extracurricular activities. So use them wisely!
The college process can be daunting but there are resources that you can take advantage of that can help you through it. And again, the earlier you start, the better. This is a lesson I’ve truly tried to take to heart as I now look at different graduate school programs to apply to. Good luck.