Starting Your College Search Doesn’t Have to be Stressful


Stephanie Siebert

Finding the college of your dreams or one that is just right for you is hard to do. Luckily we have the internet and many resources to help you with your search. Talking to Mrs. Bradke is an excellent resource and a starting off point, as she can answer your many questions. As a junior, I have been looking at colleges that interest me. A great app that I have found that has helped me look for a college is “Niche” which is available for download on the app store and google play for free. You can create an account and look up any college that you are interested in; the app has close to 7,000 U.S. colleges and Universities. The app gives you crucial and basic information about each college. It also gives you reviews from students and provides a score from A+ to F on each aspect of the college like the professors, the food, safety, and diversity. There are other useful features such as an admissions calculator, a list of colleges, and what they are best known for in each state. 


Starting your college search can be stressful as there are so many colleges and universities around the world. You can start by answering these questions to help eliminate some colleges from your search:

Do you want to study abroad or stay in the U.S.?

Do you want to stay close to home or go far away?

Do you want to go to a public or private college?

What class size do you work best in?

What career plans do you have?


Think about all the factors like the price, location, major, level of independence, and community. The College Board has many resources to help you, such as Big Future, if you allow them to send you mail, you will receive mail from different colleges. 


The Johnny Green talked to Mrs. Brandke to get her professional advice on starting the college search. 


Q: What is the best way to start your college search?

A: “I always suggest to students, to have a general idea of what their area of interest is even if they don’t know what career yet. Looking at schools that have known programs in the area that they have an interest in is a great way to start. Using and the “Princeton Review” are endless resources for starting to search for colleges. Lastly, I always suggest going to college fairs. It’s a great start as far as getting an idea of what is out there and what you’re looking for because there are many things to think about when you are getting ready to go to college in terms of what size of a school, location: state or out of state, city or country.”


Q: What should juniors be doing right now to get their transcripts ready?

A: “Getting your transcript ready starts in eighth grade when we talk about making sure that you’re taking a challenging courses load, keeping it diverse and making sure that you are keeping up with things that you enjoy throughout your day as well as things to widen your knowledge in your interest areas as you are heading out of highschool. We maintain everything on the computers, so as far as having a copy of it, we keep it here in the office.”


Q: What advice would you give to Juniors and Seniors?

A: “Challenge yourself, take your time, figure out where your interests lie even if it’s in a few different places, come and see me so we can talk about what that means for you when it comes to heading to college. Start looking at college-related things during the spring of your junior year so that you can get yourself organized. Doing college visits is very important during junior year, so you can get familiar with campuses and start making your list. So when it comes to senior year in the fall, you know where you are applying to, and you have a general idea of what the application process is for each school because sometimes schools have specific things that they are looking for like SAT Subject Tests. So you want to do all that research in junior year to get yourself ready and in the spring of the junior year is an appropriate time to start and over the summer as well. So senior year you want to come in organized. I meet with seniors right at the beginning of the year to help start the process, and I try to follow up with them consistently throughout the fall to help you with the application process. is an excellent resource to get yourself prepared for the application process because most schools utilize that platform.”


Q: What should a senior do if they don’t have a plan yet?

A: “If by senior year a person is really undecided in what they are going to do, they should make an appointment with me in September at the very latest October because we want to get them set up with whatever the plan is by December or January. Many colleges have a rolling admission program, which means that you can apply anytime, but if a student is interested in something like nursing, which is a competitive field, they are going to want to make sure they meet the regular deadlines rather than working with a rolling admission process.”


Q: What activities should students do over the summer to get ready for college?

A: “The most important thing to do in the summer between junior and senior year is visiting colleges, because while a college may look good to you on paper when you visit the campus sometimes it gives you a different idea of what it is that you are looking for because you want to remember that when you do go away to college you are going to live there so you want it to be comfortable on that campus, you want it to feel like your home away from home. The second thing that you should do is look into the financial aid process and what you are going to need to do to apply because they do open the application process much earlier than in the past. It is now available in October so depending on the school that you are going to sometimes it’s important to get it in earlier than January which is the average time most students will get their financial aid done.”


Q: How important are the SAT’s to get into a good college?

A: “Over the last couple of years, admissions have really taken a look at the SAT and have been deciding whether or not they are going to continue to keep that as part of their application process, so the importance of the SAT varies from college to college. As a junior, you really have to do your research. Even if the college doesn’t require it, I tell students that it is still important to take it because, for example, if a college had two students that are completely even with each other. They can only choose one, and one took the SAT, and the other didn’t, they might take the student that took the SAT, so I would say that it is still a very important part of the process.”


Q: How does our school compare to others?

A: “We are a small school, and we do that best we can with all the resources that we have, and we try to offer various opportunities as far as courses here in the building and online courses. Colleges look at schools on an individual basis. Every year I send to the colleges that students are applying to what’s called a school profile, so they see our general makeup as a school district. They see what we offer as far as courses go, so they understand that this student took advantage of all the opportunities that Weedsport offers. So it is more about how much advantage a student takes in the different things we offer within our building because students can only take what we offer here, so colleges level the playing field and look from a broader basis of is that student challenging themself, is the student taking what they can.”


The great thing about starting your college search is that you don’t have to do everything on your own and you shouldn’t try to. Follow Mrs. Bradke’s advice and start early. Going on college visits with friends can make it a fun experience and asking your parents for help will make the college search less stressful. If you don’t have a college board account already you should get one even if you don’t plan on taking the SAT, as it has many resources. Consider getting apps like “Niche” and looking at websites that will help your search like: “”. Remember that there is a college for everyone, so continue looking until you find one that you will be happy going to!