With the start of the school year many seniors are beginning to panic. College application season is in full swing and they have not started to consider the colleges to which they will apply. It is not too late to start! Follow these steps to college admission success:
1. Choose colleges that are a good fit. How far do you want to be from home? Is traveling to either coast your goal or is staying closer to home more realistic? Decide which states you will consider and the ease of traveling to and from home. Consider the college’s location within the state; is it an urban, suburban or rural setting and whether the campus setting is important to you. Also consider the size of the undergraduate student body, the overall size of freshmen classes and how it affects your learning style. Look for colleges that offer the subject matter you wish to study and extra curricula activities of importance to you.
2. Create an initial list of 20+ colleges. Upon further review, narrow the list down to the colleges to which you will apply. The final list should consist of 2-3 reach schools, 5-6 target schools, and 2-3 safety schools.
3. Take a virtual tour of each college campus under consideration. Although nothing takes the place of visiting colleges in person, a virtual tour will give you a feel for the campus and whether you see yourself fitting in. Set up official tours for the colleges on your final list. Set these up in advance online on each college’s website. Space the tours out during senior year but complete before April 1.
4. Retake the SAT and/or ACT if your scores are not as high as expected. Colleges will accept scores from the September, October and November exams taken during senior year. Remember, almost all college’s accept super scoring so your overall score may be higher than you think.
5. Ask for a letter of recommendation from an 11th grade teacher. During the first week of senior year, approach the teacher and request she/he write a letter of recommendation for your college applications. Have a hand written note ready to hand deliver to the teacher as an additional reminder.
6. Write a resume. List all your activities and accomplishments including all sports (community and school), musical instruments/ensembles/orchestras/marching band, dance troupes, singing groups, acting troupes; any activity you do on a regular basis. Also include work experience, volunteer work and community service experience. All activities from 6th through 12th grade should be included. Sample resumes for high school students can be found online. The information compiled on the resume will be transferred onto each college application.
7. The Common Application is live beginning August 1. Begin to complete the common application for participating colleges on your list. There are over 550 colleges that use the common application so chances are high many colleges on your list participate. To find colleges that participate in The Common Application search their website www.commonapp.org.
8. Apply early to a few colleges. Consider early decision or early action as an option for your top three choices. Learn the difference between the two options and decide if applying early is right for you. Check out https://professionals.collegeboard.com/…/applications/early for more information.
9. Apply on time. Note the deadline for regular decision and make certain the application is sent at least one week beforehand. Large colleges get a surge of online applications as the deadline approaches and server overload has been known to happen. Play safe and apply early!
10. Write excellent essays. The topics are fluid and open for interpretation. Proper grammar and spelling are a MUST. If you keep the essay personal and write from the heart, your sincerity will shine through. Remember to proof, proof and proof some more!!! Have a person you trust read and proof the essay before submission. Great essays can be the difference between admission and rejection.
11. Answer all essay questions on the application. Many colleges have supplemental essay questions and program specific essay questions (for your major). The length of these essays vary and are a required part of the application process. If a question is inadvertently missed, the application will not be considered.
12. Review the application before submission!!!! Have someone you trust, parent or other adult, review the application before pushing the send button. You cannot correct mistakes once the application is submitted and if questions are left unanswered your application will not be considered.
If you have any questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at www.Prep4CollegeNow.com or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!
Andrea K. Frimmer, M. Ed.