The search for the right college can certainly be overwhelming, but close to a hundred local parents and students have a better idea of how to tackle the process after Wednesday night's Tolland Public Library Foundation event, "Getting Started on Your College Search."
Educational consultant Heather Ricker-Gilbert told participants that the best advice is to start earlier rather than later.
"You can't get started too early," she said, emphasizing that there are numerous factors that students need to sort through to find the right school. The search is only complicated by the fact that in the U.S. and Canada alone, there are 3,500 colleges for students to choose from, Ricker-Gilbert said.
She recommended that students get to know their school counselors during sophomore year, who can help them start searching for schools with the best academic and personal fit. And, she stressed, students shouldn't focus on getting into the most prestigious college, but should find a school that will help them achieve their goals, whether that means a two-year school, a large university or community college.
"College admission is not about what's the best college I can get into, but what is going to be the right college for me," Ricker-Gilbert said.
And through college visits, research and a focused effort for students to figure out what major and college would best fit their needs, parents and students will find the right college match, she said.
Tolland resident Cathy Madore, whose son is a sophomore, said that the program helped her realize that now is the time to start their college search.
"It was very informative and gave us a good idea of where to start ahead of time," she said. "We learned how early you have to start this process."
Tolland Public Library Foundation President Linda Byam said that the event quickly gained popularity in town, skyrocketing from a projected 45 participants to Wednesday night's one hundred attendees.
"It was great to see how many interested parents and students are here tonight," she said. "I'm very happy that the foundation was able to provide a program like this for the library."
The program was a part of the foundation's Year of the Young Adult initiative. For a list of Ricker-Gilbert's recommended college resources, check out her website.