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    There are so many factors to consider when young people are deciding which college is the best fit for them. School size, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and location, among others, all enter into the equation. There are so many things to consider that might be hard to know where to begin. Finding a college where students will feel comfortable and have opportunities to thrive takes some thoughtful and intentional steps along the way.

    At KCD, our college counseling program is committed to helping students find the right fit for them and walking alongside them throughout the process. This is done through building relationships, structured guidance and unique programming.

    To help you along in this process, KCD college counselors Danny Easley and Dary Picken shared five tips for success in your college search:

    1. Figure out what is most important to you.

    Instead of focusing on the prestige or name of a school, think about your interests and passions and go from there. If a school doesn’t match up with those interests, it’s easy to remove that school from your list. For the last several years, KCD has offered rising seniors the ‘Finding Your Fit’ college fair, which allows students to learn about schools without considering their name or reputation.

    2. It’s never too early to visit.

    Visiting a campus and getting a feel for the culture and environment of a school can be a valuable tool in narrowing your search and figuring out what elements of a school are most important to you. Picken says that it’s important for students to get a sense of what it feels like to be on campus. “Kids have to know what they like and what kind of environment they think would be a good fit for them, and if they can see themselves on a particular campus. As counselors, then we can say, ‘based on your interests, you should check out schools A, B and C’.”

    3. Get off to a good start academically.

    Easley suggests not waiting until junior or senior year to get serious about your grades. Building a solid foundation early on will carry into the latter years of high school and set you up for success. “We talk to students early on about getting off to a really strong start in high school. If they don’t have good grades, then they are automatically narrowing their options for when they get to their junior or senior year,” he said.

    4. Get involved in your community.

    Colleges are not just looking for excellent students, but also value students who show the potential to be involved and engaged on their campuses. Easley suggests getting involved early and often. “We encourage students to get involved, either within the KCD community or outside of it,” he said. “Find some things you are interested in and continue to be involved in those things throughout high school so that you can take advantage of leadership opportunities and are able to grow within those activities.”

    5. Do your research and ask questions.

    Visiting campuses, school websites, and local college fairs; reading brochures and pamphlets; and meeting with your college counselor are all outstanding ways to learn about a prospective school. Asking questions of school representatives, as well as getting guidance from your college counselor, is crucial to being more informed about an institution.

    At KCD, we believe that it’s important to help students find the best fit for them when selecting a college. We believe that individual attention, strong academics and opportunities to get involved in the community allow students to position themselves for success in college.

    Photo courtesy of Kentucky Country Day School.

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