Applying to college can be one of the most stressful and confusing times of your life if you do not stay organized. A few unexpected events may occur when you are narrowing down your search for the perfect campus to spend your next four years on.
Essay Writing. Not all high school English courses offer suggestions for college essays. If you attend a college prep high school, your English teacher will most likely be able to help you through this process. If not, pick up a college essay guidebook with sample essays (good and bad) to help you along. When applying to college, your essay could either make or break you! A college essay is one of the only chances a school has to get to know the real you, beyond your grades and extracurriculars. Be sure to keep it personal, yet not as personal as a page out of your diary or a post off your blog. Keep your essay clear and classy. Have a few people review your essay (teachers, parents, and even friends) and make sure your grammar and spelling is impeccable! Show admissions you’ve got what their school wants!
Tip: A college essay should be around a page or so long, single-spaced. Add as much detail as you can and fully express yourself. Make an impression and keep it classy!
Dates for Different Schools. Every college has different deadlines and this can often get confusing. The key is to get organized in advance. Narrow down what schools you definitely want to apply to and make checklists for each school. Also, be sure to speak to your guidance counselor throughout your high school career regarding your grades, your activities, and your preparation to move onto college. Your guidance counselor should become your best friend from the end of your junior year through your senior year! Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help with your applications and with organization. Keep folders for each school as well as bookmarks on your Safari page for College Board and the Common Application.
Tip: Keep a checklist for every school and include important dates, prices of applications, what the school was like, and if the school is a reach, target, or a school you expect an academic scholarship from.
Price of Applications. One of the most shocking aspects of applying to schools for myself was the price of the applications. This is definitely something NO ONE is prepared for. Applications can be free; applications can be 50 dollars; applications can also be over 100 dollars. Remember, college is a business. To be sure you don’t end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, be sure to limit the amount of schools you apply to. Set up a number, like 10, and estimate how much that number of applications will cost. No one, especially our parents, need the shock of application bills!
Tip: Keep record of what each application costs. Add that to your college checklist. Also, be sure to talk to speak to your parents BEFORE you apply. Know what your family can afford and what they can’t.
Visiting & Interviews. One of the biggest parts of applying to college is visiting each campus and interviewing with an admissions staff member. Roaming around a college campus gives you the feel for the school, especially what type of student goes to the school. This is a necessary aspect when applying to college in order to find the perfect fit. For interviews, most high schools or regions of the USA have specific admissions counselors. Be sure to dress to impress! Classy co-eds know how to work a room and an interviewer will notice a put together student. Always shake their hand and write a thank you note a week or so after the visit. Admissions have folders with your name on it and will take note of your gesture!
Tip: Visit a college campus during the week, if possible. You’ll be able to see the students in action. On the weekends, especially in the morning, campuses tend to be dead. Get the full affect of a school and tour when classes are in session!
Financial Aid. Financial aid is one side of college that will follow you from your first application to the last semester of your senior year. It is crucial to be honest and on time with financial aid. This part requires its own applications (FASFA, personal school aid, etc.), so be sure to be on top of all your dates and forms. Add these dates to your checklists and get a head start on the form the day they come out. College is expensive! But to make it manageable and ensure you’re able to go to your dream school, take full advantage of financial aid.
Tip: Contact each school’s financial aid office before applying. Figure out the costs of tuition, room and board, and any extra fees. Know the cost and plan ahead!