Why your junior year of high school is your first year of college


It’s hard to believe, but at this time next year, you’ll be graduating from high school and starting college in the fall.

Do you know what you want to study? Where you want to study? What type of college, campus and experience you prefer? How you’re going to pay for it all?

Relax. Breathe deep. You’re at the start of a really exciting, interesting and fun time. You have plenty of time to take it all in, plan and make all those big decisions. You just need to get started.

The college search usually starts with clicking through a bunch of websites and leafing through a few fancy brochures. Unfortunately, pixels and pages are no substitute for getting boots on the ground. You need to experience a college campus first hand.

Breathe the air. Wander the student center. Sit in on a lecture. Chat up a few professors. Grab a meal in the dining hall. Stroll through the quad.

Try several colleges on for size
Michigan is blessed with many outstanding college options. There’s the big state universities. The specialized trade schools. And there’s Michigan’s smaller independent colleges and universities. Each has its own unique attributes. Its own unique vibe.

Are you seeking community or looking for a crowd? Do they offer the programs you want to study? Are they flexible when you change majors and then change again? It’s so important to find that right fit.

That fit can make all the difference. Research suggests that the “fit factor” (choosing a college most compatible with your learning, social, and extracurricular interests) is one of the most important determinants of academic success and earning an undergraduate degree.

The best way to choose your own path is to visit a campus or three. Grab some friends. Make it a road trip.

Colleges know how important campus visits are for high school juniors. That’s why so many host special sessions every spring like Spring Arbor University‘s Junior Exploration or Hope College‘s Junior Day or Hillsdale College‘s Junior Visit Day or Alma College‘s Junior Day.

Whichever you choose, visit early and visit often. Life moves by pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around, you just might miss it.

Follow your own path. Be bold. Be different. Go independent.