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     Navigating The College Search Process? Ask These Questions.

    Posted by Ava Menghi

    As high school progresses, you may view your senior year with a mix of anticipation and uncertainty, especially regarding the college application process. Many students find themselves overwhelmed by the admissions journey because they haven’t thought about why they want to go to college (let alone where). They just know college is the traditional next step after high school graduation.

    Want to make the process less daunting or stressful and more intentional? Take some time during your junior year to reflect on your motivations and goals.

    The following key questions may help you gain some clarity and confidence about your college journey. These questions require thoughtful introspection, but answering them now will make the application process go much more smoothly in your senior year.

    This reflection doesn’t have to be a one-time deal, either, especially if you’re not a senior yet. Answer these questions now and then revisit them in six months or a year. After all, your interests and goals may evolve.

    1. What are my interests and passions?

    Having a deep understanding of your interests and passions is the first step in choosing a college that fits. When you know which activities and hobbies you enjoy the most, it becomes easier to find a college with the environment and resources to help you keep exploring these passions. A university might have a club, sports team, academic program, or other resources perfectly aligned with your interests.

    To illustrate this concept, let’s look at your school life. You could ask: What are my favorite subjects? Why do I like them? What hobbies do I want to keep doing? Do I enjoy a particular activity or summer program? Why is that part of my life so important to me?

    Audit each part of your life with questions like these. Figure out what makes you happy and write it down. It is important to take your hobbies into college with you!

    2. What are my personal and career goals?

    You have to consider your personal and career goals when you weigh college options. Use the goals you want to achieve in your college and post-college career as a guiding factor in deciding on a school. Look for a college that can provide you with as many opportunities as possible to achieve all of your goals.

    Research colleges offering good programs in your field of interest. By selecting a college that supports your personal and career ambitions, you will set yourself up for success.

    3. How can college help me achieve my goals?

    Next, consider how attending college gets you closer to achieving your own goals. Think through the outcomes you hope to gain from your college experience. Hoping to expand your knowledge in one specific area or many? Want to take advantage of study abroad programs and internships to get some real-world experience? Are you looking to cultivate a professional network through your college years?

    Once you define the post-college life that you envision, revisit your list of colleges to identify which have the resources to get you across the goal line. Those resources could include specialized programs, internship or research opportunities, and a strong alumni network.

    Understanding how college could lead you to achieve your goals is the key to making an informed college decision.

    4. How do I choose the right college for me?

    Choosing the right college involves examining factors like academics, affordability, location, size, and available programs. These elements all play a significant role in shaping your college experience. Research the academic programs to find ones aligned with your interests and goals. Assess your budget while exploring financial aid or payment options that work for you and your family (if they’re helping).

    Also, figure out your campus preferences. Love the traditional college campus feel? Want to be in the middle of a city? You’ve got plenty of choices, whatever your preference.

    Schedule college visits.. Explore campuses, ask questions, and talk to students to really get a feel for where you’ll thrive as a student.

    Remember: You’ll end up exactly where you belong

    The college search can feel overwhelming, but trust your gut — there's a school out there that's perfect for YOU. It's all about finding a place where you can learn, grow, and chase down your dreams.

    Once you’ve answered the questions above — once, twice, or multiple times — you’ll have a clearer picture and can use all the resources available to rock your college search with confidence. By senior year, you'll be a college application pro, ready to take on the next big adventure!

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    Ava Menghi

    Ava Menghi

    Ava Menghi is a junior at Boston University studying public relations in the College of Communication. She was previously a student in the College of General Studies program at BU, during which time she had the opportunity to study abroad in London.