Students currently applying to colleges are the most diverse group in college admissions history. Every type of student imaginable is seeking higher education. Preparation levels, achievement records and challenges are all over the map. Just as there is no one type of student seeking a college education, there is no one approach to preparation and planning that fits all.
It is best for all students to start the preparation and planning process early. Students with extraordinary qualifications and goals as well as those with special needs are especially in need of early planning to take advantage of opportunities available to them. Just as there are many levels of preparation and readiness in prospective college students, there are many levels of challenge and rigor at colleges and universities. The goal is to help students apply to colleges that best fit their needs and readiness levels as entering freshmen.
There are colleges designed to meet the academic rigor needs of the most academically well-developed and accomplished students with high test scores and GPA's from the most rigorous high school programs. There are also colleges and universities that are more moderate in the level of challenge to entering freshmen. Additionally, there are colleges that offer sophisticated support services set up to support special needs including learning differences and behavioral differences of the developing student.
While location, cost and curriculum are important factors in considering prospective colleges, differences in rigor and support services should be considered as well.