How to do: College

How+to+do%3A+College

Photo by Alyssa Kift

Story by Eleanor Schroeder, editor in chief

Junior year is notoriously known as the most difficult year of high school. Yet, some seniors argue that the stress of planning their futures and applying to colleges is more challenging. However, the college application process can be manageable, and perhaps even fun, if you plan ahead and stay organized. Our school offers many resources to assist your college readiness, so here are some essential tips to be successful.

Research:

Research colleges and universities and make a list of where you want to apply. If possible, visit your top choice or take each college’s virtual tour on their web page. Go to each college’s website and find the Net Price Calculator to find out what this college might cost for your family.

Calendar:

Make a calendar and checklist with all application and scholarship deadlines. Do not miss a due date. You can prioritize your essays with earlier deadlines also. Choose what application date you will apply to for each college– early decision, early action or regular decision. Early decision is binding which means you have to sign a contract to go to that specific school if you get in.

Resume:

Create a resume to keep track of your activities, awards and volunteer events. Not all schools allow you to submit a resume, but it can be beneficial if applicable and in future interviews. The earlier you create a resume, the better.

Recommendation Letters:

Schools vary on how many rec letters you can submit, but they are an essential piece of insight for the application review committee to your true character. You will need to consider what teachers, coaches, advisors or community members know you well enough to advocate for you. Request a letter with enough time before the application deadline.

Create an account:

Depending on where you plan to apply, create a Common App, Apply Texas, or other specific college online portal. Find out how each college requires for the applicants to submit their applications. If you prefer, to apply with a paper application, it is possible, but this advice will focus on the more common forum. After you make an account, you can begin filling out your basic information that will be the same on every application.

FAFSA and CSS:

The FAFSA and CSS are available to fill out after Oct. 1 of your senior year. You must fill out these to apply and receive financial aid.

ACT and SAT:

The majority of colleges and universities require applicants to submit test score and most do not have a preference for SAT over ACT or vice versa. Consider the average test scores of the places you want to apply and study to raise your score if necessary. Once you have a score you are comfortable with, report your scores to the colleges.

Essays and Supplemental writing:

Depending on where you apply there might be required essays or supplemental short answers. Here is the chance for you to tell what doesn’t come across on your transcript. Take time to brainstorm and get a teacher, friend or family member to edit your work. Look on your college website to see what they require.

Communicate with College Counselors:

Talk to the college and career readiness center so they know what schools to send your transcript to.  Also ask for them to submit a school report

Interview:

If your colleges offer interviews, take advantage of this opportunity to indicate your dedication to that school to increase your chances of getting in.  If you do schedule an interview, take time to prepare by  practicing answering common interview  questions.

Final Review and Submit:

Before submitting, reread everything and get someone to look over it too. Be sure everything is spelled correctly and uses good grammar. After this, submit your application and pay the application fee.

Wait:

Depending on where you apply, the school may have rolling admission or a designated decision day. If you do not get into a school, don’t think you are not good enough. Rather understand that you were not a good fit for that school. After receiving all of your acceptance letters, it is up to you. Weigh your options and consider scholarships from each school with your family.