As juniors finish up their penultimate high school year, they will know even more about what colleges should go on their final college lists. Sidwell Friends, an elite private school in Washington, DC, does it right: it limits students to a list of nine colleges. Oh, wouldn’t it be awesome if all school held students to this number.

In the meantime, we need to help students learn about colleges so they can form match college lists. Here are tips to help students narrow down their college lists.

Summer College Visits. Even though colleges are not in session, summertime is still a powerful time to visit colleges. Students can go on tours, attend info sessions, and investigate college resources. Everyone on campus is less stressed, and students can still meet with coaches and other campus officials—just check in advance. Students can also decide which colleges they may need to visit again in the fall to further narrow down their lists for Early Decision or Early Action.

Summer College Interviews. Students can book interviews now at schools in their local areas or other campuses they visit this summer. Students should always research colleges before interviews. Local interviews are great as they help students prepare for alumni and other interviews in the fall. Students should always send a thank you note or email following each interview.


Online College Fairs and Chats. Many colleges and networks host online college fairs and chats. College Week Live will host its all College Access Day on May 21, 2015 and feature free webinars and college chats. Catch Dr. Joseph at 2 p.m. PST giving a talk on “Planning a Gold Medal Worthy Senior Year: Every day different colleges around the country give chats. Students just need to check colleges that interest them and join an online information session or chat.

Diversity or Specialized Visit Programs. Many campuses offer special free diversity programs or specialized fly-in programs for rising seniors. These programs take place in the spring, summer, and fall. Application deadlines start now and go through early fall. May 22, for example, is the deadline for nominating a talented young lady to attend Mt. Holyoke’s fall diversity program. Check Get Me To College’s list of 2015 Diversity Programs.

Scholarship Research. Starting in May, juniors can begin to research merit and need-based scholarships as many have early fall deadlines. Some schools may need to come off lists because they don’t offer enough aid. Others can then take their places. Many colleges require students to apply early to receive merit scholarships. Students should look at each school on their current lists and research merit and need-based scholarships. In addition, students should research other external scholarships from Questbridge to Jack Kent College Scholarship Program. California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard maintains an outstanding Paying for College Guide that lists scholarship deadlines month by month.

By Rebecca Joseph