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updated: 10/11/2011 2:45 PM

College counselor offers tips on finding the right school

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As high school seniors complete their college applications, high school juniors begin the tedious process of visiting schools, meeting with admissions staff and seeking scholarships and financial aid.

Some students tackle the college search with excitement, while others are fearful, concerned that they won't make the right choices. Others worry that they won't make it into the college of their choice.

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"The more information that students have, the better decisions they will make," said Batavian Tracy Campbell Beckley, owner of Options College Consulting LLC.

Beckley works with families to identify collegiate educational opportunities based on interests, goals and needs. She also assists students through the college application process.

"Finding the right school is so important," said Beckley. "It keeps students from transferring during college, which often results in loss of credits."

Finding schools for students with physical disabilities and classes for students who have special learning requirements isn't always easy.

"Some students might need schools that have small discussion groups or special testing centers," said Beckley. "I can help them find a school that will work with them."

What is the biggest mistake students make?

"I think that people immediately assume that private schools are too expensive," she added. "Often those schools are less expensive because of the scholarship opportunities (they) offer."

Beckley works with the student to identify strengths and interests.

"So many college students end up switching majors in college and taking five years rather than four to complete," she said. "For example, if a student has enjoyed the sciences in high school, we can explore what careers are available in those areas," said Beckley.

Although some families choose a junior college to begin a college experience, Tracy Beckley feels that it is important to attend a four-year college if economically possible.

"The social dimension of being away from home and living in a dorm is really important." she added."It's important to have the responsibility to start on your own career path."

Beckley also believes in attending college nights and taking advantage of all the help that is available through the library and the schools.

Beckley will offer a free program, "The Top Ten Strengths and Experiences that Colleges Look for in High School Students" from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1033 Main St., Batavia.

The Batavia Public Library offers a College Knowledge series that addresses many of the questions of prospective college applicants. The next one takes place at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the library, when Julie Nelson of Xavier University will offer application tips, financial assistance advice and help in finding the right school.

For information on the College Knowledge series, log onto bataviapubliclibrary.org. To learn more about Options College Consulting go to optionscc.info or visit Options College Consulting, LLC on Facebook.

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