As seniors are submitting applications in record numbers, juniors are launching their college search faced with a similar future scenario. The ease of the Common Application combined with the uncertainty surrounding college admissions probabilities has fueled this stressful trend over the past few years. To help keep control of your college process and avoid needless applications (and stress!) down the road, here’s a recommended action plan to get started: 1) create your academic and interest profile by drafting a resume and completing personality assessments; 2) identify college criteria important to you such as size, location, culture, and majors; 3) develop a college list that matches profile and criteria; 4) understand test requirements to plan timeline for standardized testing and secure tutoring to match learning style, if necessary; 5) go to websites to research colleges further and buy college resource books such as Peterson’s 2012 Four Year Colleges, 2012 Princeton Review The Best 376 Colleges, and the 2012 Fiske Guide; 6) travel to colleges for formal visits and write down impressions; 7) create a “college supplies” area in your home and 9) attend local college fairs or regional visits. You can never do too much self-discovery and exploration when it comes to developing a strong college list. Start early, stay focused and your application load next fall will be smart and manageable.

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