Whether a student is a high school freshman or they are entering into their senior year, it is important to create and continually review their college plans. Having some set goals in place is the only way to perform a successful college search throughout their final years of high school.
What is in a college plan? There are literally dozens of factors to consider in order to formulate a solid and well designed plan.
First on the list is a student’s basic “profile”. This should be a tool that both the student and parents use to determine the appropriate field of study for the student to pursue. For a young person there will not automatically be a single career path or choice for them to follow all the way to a Bachelor’s degree. Instead there will be a continual period of assessment as they work their way through high school. This process will “align” the student with many potential career choices, and allow them to select a degree or major that can be flexible enough to meet their career goals.
For example, if a student shows a strong interest in organization, finance and actively competes in sports it might be a good idea to perform their college search by looking at business programs and majors at all the schools of interest. With the specialized training of a business degree a student can work in any field at all, from sports to baking to software design.
Another key factor for a college plan is a “resume”. Students will eventually need to apply to the colleges and universities they identified in their college search, and this requires an itemization of what that student can offer to the school. It is much easier to note each year of participation in a community, social or sporting organization as it happens than to try to recall it while filling out an application. Some parents make binders for each year of a student’s career and keep track of their activities, interests, pursuits and achievements in this way.
Other important pieces of a resume will include letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors and community leaders. These are truly critical items for a college application as well as scholarship applications. It is important to help a student present the best image possible during the college application process, and when admissions officers see that a student is an important and active part of their own community they know that the student’s efforts and energies will transfer easily to their college community.
A college search can be much more streamlined and refined with a well developed college plan in place. It will identify both educational and career goals for the student, set a realistic budget figure, and help a student and their parents to properly assess a school to be sure it will meet all of the needs of the student.