How To Go To College

The college admissions process can be daunting for a lot of high school seniors and their parents.

Finding the right school, filling out those dreaded applications, waiting for the admissions letter in the mail, and understanding the financial aid process is both complicated and time consuming, or at least it appears to be that way.

But here’s the good news, determining how to go to college doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. All you need to do is follow these 6 steps:

1.  Which careers interest you?

This is a pretty tough question. There are thousands of different careers out there, so how do you know you’re choosing the right one?

As you’re figuring out how to go to college, it’s important to brainstorm about what careers or college majors might appeal to you. Take time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. What extracurricular activities are you passionate about?

Although this might change as you progress through your junior or senior year of high school, you should use the results of your brainstorming session as a starting point. Perhaps you’re awesome at math and are interested in becoming an accountant, or you love writing and are considering majoring in journalism.

Matching up different careers with your interests will help you start thinking about what type of college would be best for you.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

2. Which type of college would best fit you?

As you continue to think about how to go to college, you must also consider what type of college you want to go to. There are a ton of different colleges out there – private, public, community, four-year, technical, etc.

Take time to think about all of these options and discuss the pros and cons of each one with your parents, counselors, teachers, and friends.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

Additionally, you can also take a look at This site offers a great college search tool, designed specifically to help students select various colleges and universities based on their individual preferences.

3. What are the admission requirements?

Once you figure out which schools you’re interested in, take time to research their admissions requirements (i.e. average GPA, average ACT/SAT score, required essays, and recommendation letters).

All of this information can likely be found on the college’s website or in the application itself. If not, you can always call the school’s office of admissions and speak to an admissions officer.

It’s important you select colleges or universities that fit your specific situation. How affordable is each college? How likely is it that you will be accepted? Gathering all of this information up front will allow you to be fully prepared when it comes time to submit your application.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

4. When is the application deadline?

As you continue to consider how to go to college, you must find out when the college applications are due for the schools you’re interested in and write this information down! Senior year of high school will be busy. You’ll have to appropriately balance completing your application along with all of your other responsibilities (i.e. homework, part-time job, extracurricular activities, etc.)

If you don’t stay on top of your college deadlines (i.e. application deadlines, financial aid deadlines, housing deadlines, and scholarship deadlines), you might miss them without realizing it.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

5. What schools will you apply to?

I recommend applying to between five to seven colleges or universities. At least one or two of the schools on your list should be safety schools, meaning you should feel pretty confident you’ll be accepted. This way, if you don’t get accepted into all of the schools on your list, you’ll still have some options.

Figuring out how to go to college is also about playing it safe and giving yourself the best chance to get into college.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

6. How much will college cost you?

The last step in determining how to go to college is evaluating how much it’s going to cost you and how you’re going to pay for it. This is more widely referred to as the COA or Cost of Attendance. COA includes the following things: Tuition and Fees, Room and Board, Personal Expenses, and Travel Expenses.

To determine the COA, you must calculate the items described above and deduct this amount from the financial aid you received from the FAFSA.

Here are some resources that can help you with this process:

If you follow these 6 steps on how to go to college, you’ll be a college freshman in no time!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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