THE BLOG
01/13/2015 06:34 pm ET Updated Mar 15, 2015

Flip the List

It's January. In college admissions this is a period of time, stretching until May 1 (and beyond for wait list students) where many seniors have submitted applications and will wait (excluding early decision admits and early action applicants who commit) while high school juniors hit a new gear in the college process. Admissions officers return to the road to serve on panels or keynote the college night for eleventh graders and their parents. Guidance counselors work through personal inventory and interest questions. Some high schools have weekly seminars on test prep and the process. It's also the time when, I believe and have content on my blog, Page 217, students can have the most influence on the process.

This influence arises from an informed and reflective process of creating a college list that aligns with attributes a student desires in his or her college experience and is mindful of the connections between the 5 I's and 4 C's. Juniors create important tools by assessing themselves, investigating colleges and identifying priorities.

Juniors, to get started, define the experience you hope for and then match that with colleges whose culture best reflects those characteristics. Use resources, like College Factual rankings, college night and your counseling office, to investigate. Then try this, flip the College Factual rankings list and see how many so called lower ranked schools could align with your interests and goals. Continue your review and find some in the middle and some at the top. Ok, now go to other sources of college information, books at the library, peers you respect, college websites and blogs, among others, and come up with 12 to 15 schools. These schools will have varied strengths; each one might be found on different college lists! Finally, from now until September, continue to refine your list to bring it to eight schools. Deeper research and continued introspection will help you narrow your choices.

I hope to bring you along the process on my blog and Sirius XM radio shows. It's only January, of your junior year, we have time to be thoughtful and deliberate, leaving plenty of space for you to enjoy being a teenager.