“Back to School” ads, posters and reminders are appearing just about everywhere. The college application process begins to move at lightening speed with the launch of the Common and Universal Applications. Some colleges have already released their supplements. Rising high school seniors should be well on their way researching colleges of interest, working on applications, resumes and essays.
Here are some helpful tips to remain organized during the next few months.
Prepare computer files for colleges on your list and those of interest.
On these pages, students can save information they receive from colleges as well as any personal notes that they learn from visits and research. They can include testing information and list recommendations they will need. Some prefer paper files and some have both! Whatever works!
Create a spreadsheet for the college list.
Include all deadlines, recommendations needed, interview appointments and all user names and passwords to access the applications on the list.
Understand how your high school operates.
Does your high school send out official transcripts to colleges or does the student need to order them? Each high school is different and it is essential to know the policy for requesting recommendations and what those writing recommendations prefer to receive. Attend a college night if your school has one and get to know your counselor. They will be writing a recommendation as well.
Get to know the high school counselor.
Many have hundreds of students so students must advocate for themselves. Counselors do write recommendations and prefer to gain insight on the students. Make an appointment and/or stop by their office.
Know ALL Deadlines.
The college process is all about deadlines – testing, applications, scholarships and any high school requirements. Make a chart, post all due dates and stay ahead of them!
Know college requirements and deadlines.
Understand the different ways to apply to college and the admission policies of the colleges on the list. Colleges vary and some deadlines are ahead others. The requirements for colleges can differ as well from the number of recommendations, to standardized tests they accept (or not at all), score choice policies, interviews offered and the number of required essays.
The college application essays.
The college essay process takes a significant amount of time and should not be rushed. Seniors should begin this process as soon as possible. Help students understand the intent of each essay prompt and discuss topic ideas. Remind students to write in the first person and to stay within the required word or character count. Make sure students write their essays on their own.
College Visits, fairs and high school presentations.
College representatives do travel the country and visit high schools in designated areas. Check the counseling office to see which schools are visiting your high school and when. This is an opportunity to meet and greet. If reps are in your area, you may be able to sign your student up for a local interview. If possible, visit the campuses where you student is applying. However, few if any visit every school where they apply.
Art, music, science, writing – supplemental materials.
Seniors can emphasize various talents by presenting these through supplements the colleges provide or perhaps through auditions. Planning supplementary materials can be difficult, and parents can assist their student in making sure they have met all requirements. If an admission office is called, have the student make the call.
Know your student’s best method of organization.
The application process is multi-faceted and it is extremely important to remain thoroughly organized! Parents can assist with keeping track of requirements and deadlines, but the content of this process belongs to the student. Review the college list with your student and discuss any family financial concerns regarding funding their college education.