How Early Should You Start Thinking About College?

Students work on their vocabulary in Angela Scioli’s fourth period AP Government and Politics class. Several sophomores sign up for the class to beef up their college applications.

One of high school students biggest worries is what they are going to do after graduation– for many, this means college.

Most people consider beginning the journey in junior year, with testing and college tours. However, some experts disagree.

Freshman and sophomores in high school should begin exploring careers and majors. They should become aware of the myriad of post-secondary options,” said Francine Schwartz, Founder/President of Pathfinder Counseling LLC, on a public post on  

Patricia Aviezer, president of Insider Track to College, Inc., believes one should start even earlier. According to Aviezer, students wonder which courses will prepare them for success in college and after. “These are questions that begin as early as middle school, so there are some parts of the college search that need to begin there,” said Aviezer on the same thread as Schwartz.

“More and more middle schools are offering high school courses, and if you’re really interested in preparing yourself for college acceptance and success, you need to be enrolled in these classes. By researching, ‘What courses are colleges looking for in a successful candidate,’ you will be better prepared to enroll in the right courses for you. As a high school student, you need to have a four-year plan early and it needs to be reviewed each year,” said Aviezer.

Unsurprisingly, the Leesville counselors agree with Schwartz and Aviezer. “It’s always great to plan for the future, so in a way we’re always thinking about preparing ourselves for college and/or other post-secondary opportunities,” said Pamela Leech-Saldanha, a school counselor, over email.

While college is often in the back on many students’ minds, even at a young age, Saldanha believes that one should start bringing college to the forefront in ninth grade. “All of your high school courses and final grades go on your transcript… Since your transcript will be the most important part of the college admissions process, it’s a top priority to focus on earning the best grades you can and challenging yourself to the best of your ability,” said Saldana.

Several students start to consider which classes they should take to ‘improve’ their college applications during freshman year. “[College has] never been something that my parents [have] said…‘this is the most important thing,’ but I’ve always known that I wanted to go to college, that that it was going to be a part of my future. I would probably say that… [around] seventh and eighth grade I started thinking that [college] is really important. Especially now, in high school, I started thinking about the classes I should take and what I need to prepare,” said Glenna Durbin, a Leesville sophomore.

Although Durbin doesn’t quite know what she wants to focus on in terms of a major, she does have an idea of what colleges want. “There’s a lot of different things I could see myself going into, and so I don’t really have any idea of what I want to go into at the moment, but I’m definitely trying to take as many classes as I can to make me competitive for different schools and different scholarships,” said Durbin.

“I think that knowing what colleges look for in the application process helps guide us on what we should focus on,” said Saldanha regarding what students should focus on to get into college. “All colleges will ask for your transcript as part of the application process and will use that to evaluate the difficulty of your academic courses and grades. Ideally, they want to see that you’ve appropriately challenged and stretched yourself with Honors and AP courses (whatever is appropriate for YOU), and maintained good grades at the same time. Most colleges will also ask for college admissions standardized test scores (SAT and/or ACT). And they may also evaluate recommendations from teachers/other supporters, activities outside of the classroom, and essays.”


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