Whether you are beginning high school as a freshman or embarking on your last year as a senior, fall semester is a whirlwind. There are new classes, new faces, new changes to the campus. There are existing friends to reunite with, club meetings to attend, and team tryouts or practices to make -- and of course, football games to watch, Homecoming plans to make, and studying like crazy...it’s a lot to balance. On top of all of these expectations, you’re now being asked about college. What if you don’t know what to major in? Or what schools to apply to?

Unfortunately, by the time most families come to us for assistance with college counseling, they are stressed, overwhelmed, and usually behind in the process. Many people don’t realize that college planning actually encompasses so much more than just filling out the blanks of an application and writing captivating essays. Good planning begins long before junior year, believe it or not. There are a lot factors that need to be considered: high school courses, GPA, SAT/ACT scores, extracurricular activities, community involvement/contributions, work experience, leadership skills...the list goes on! Plus, the list of schools you are interested in versus the schools you can get into don’t always align. It’s a lot to pile onto your plate over the course of the school year -- let alone fall semester.

So how do you manage everything without sacrificing sleep or your social life? Start now. Do your research. Ask for guidance or advice. Create a timeline and a to-do list. And don’t just sit around! Summer is a great time to get a head start and make your fall semester that much more manageable. Every student has a unique situation and story, and the more time dedicated to creating your narrative and making your application the best it can be, the better.