Greetings, lovely readers! As my colleagues and I travel around the world meeting future Drexel Dragons, we hear some variation of "where do I start?" quite a lot. Does this sound familiar? If it does, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
Okay, so the secret is that there is no secret. There is no shortcut. There is not one way to start your college journey that will lead to a 100% success rate. Do you know what the good news is? You have resources to make the journey smoother. So let's take a look at some of these resources that you may not have considered:
1. Your school community
I'm going to start with a fairly obvious resource here and that is your school community. As a junior in particular, you are provided with many opportunities to attend events held by your school or surrounding community that will help you with your college search. I encourage you to set up a meeting with your college counselor or a mentor to discuss your college goals, and to attend a college preparedness event like a college fair or workshop in your area at least once. As admissions counselors, we will all be hitting the road for spring travel very soon, so look out for us! You can find my schedule as well as my colleagues' on our website, for instance. If your school does not have these events, or you are unable to meet with a college counselor, reach out to colleges directly. Which leads me to…
2. Your voice
How is this helpful you might ask? Well, reaching out to a college you may be interested in will certainly pay off down the line. Many colleges and universities list contact information on their websites. This is a great way to find out who your territory manager is. What is a territory manager you ask? He or she is the admissions counselor who travels to or is the point of contact for your high school's geographic area. In many cases, this is also the person (or at least the primary person) who reviews your application for admission. Making contact with a professional at a college who can guide you to the answers to your questions can be invaluable to your search. This also gives us a chance to develop a dialogue and for schools to get to know you well in advance of when you even apply. Be thoughtful in your questions, and you will be surprised how this can pay off for you. Which reminds me…
3. Your phone
Okay, so you are going to want to save this one for outside of school hours lest you want demerits from your homeroom teacher, but hear me out. I know you have this glued to those hands almost 24/7. In fact you might be reading this on a phone right now. I implore you to use it and use it often in a few key ways. First, before you fire off those awesome questions to your admissions counselor, pause. Then pull up Google, Safari, Firefox, whatever the kids are using these days and search your question. Reserve your interactions with admissions counselors for non-yes or -no questions that cannot be answered by a quick search. This will make your interaction with them more meaningful on your end and more memorable on theirs. The next way to use your phone is to find helpful resources. Somewhere between stalking Kim's epic social media comeback and watching your friend’s Snapchat story about how they are eating Chipotle for the third time this week and are #blessed, you have time to fit in some college time. Set aside 10 minutes of even one day a week for searching online for anything from information on a major you like to scholarship opportunities to what the weather is like in the state you hope to move to. You might even choose to follow some of your choice schools on social media (our links are below). I promise this time will go a long way. Keeping this and the other tips in mind will ease you into the college process and make for a lighter load next fall when you are finally a senior and begin applying.
Remember that you have many resources right under your nose, so take this time at the end of your junior year to continue exploring how they can help you.
Erin Litsch is an Associate Director of Freshman Admissions at Drexel University who calls Center City home. She has been helping students and their parents navigate the admissions process for over three years and loves cute dog memes, baking, and flattering Snapchat filters.