My sister in-law took my niece for her senior picture yesterday. It’s so hard to imagine that she is starting her senior year in high school. And yes, I am one of those aunts who is quick to say, “I remember going with her for her first day of kindergarten. I remember her trotting around in the headdress I bought for her when she was about 3. I remember trying to teach her how to play volleyball. I remember that she loved singing Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ at the top of her lungs while in the car.”
This year, she will experience very special moments—from her senior picture to football games to senior trips to fun times with friends. She will also walk into the work of making her college decision. She is a young adult now: mature, smart, and beautiful. What I hope she realizes is just how many choices she will have in finding the right ‘next step.’
There are more than 4000 two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. I keep trying to explain that there are likely many that will meet her criteria and many that she hasn’t even heard about yet.
I recommend that high school seniors keep an open mind and go beyond the initial search of just a few ‘big name’ schools that you know and recognize.
- Attend a college fair at your high school or in your city and talk with the people behind the tables; they are likely the same people making the admission decision on your application.
- Ask questions. Does the school have your major? Where is it located? What is its size? What are the popular clubs and organizations on campus? Can I study abroad?
- Seek out college representatives that visit your high school—they have tons of information to share about the application process, scholarships, financial aid, and student life.
- Make an appointment with your college counselor to see if he or she has recommendations for you based on your areas of interest.
And for one of you…make sure you talk with your aunt. She has some experience in this area.