The college admission process has never been more competitive. The application / admission / financial aid process for colleges, especially selective schools, can be overwhelming for both parents and students.
Over one year, the number of college applications nearly doubled (NYT 5/16/07), and top grades and high test scores alone no longer guarantee admission.
Parents: Don't Fear College Costs!
Tuition at private schools often discourages outstanding student from applying. However, most elite schools meet all the demonstrated financial needs of their students. The lesson is to apply first and decide later after your son or daughter has been admitted and received a financial aid package.
What are College Expectations?
All colleges expect
- A challenging high school curriculum
- Good reading, writing, and math skills
- Effective study and time management skills
- Solid test scores on the ACT or SAT
- Involvement in community activities that exhibit leadership
- Letters of recommendation from high school faculty
- Special talents and experiences
Highly select colleges also demand
- A curriculum that emphasizes AP and honor classes
- Top grades, although slightly lower grades in rigorous courses are preferred to A's in less challenging classes
- Top ACT/SAT scores; subject SAT test scores are also required for some schools.
- Well-written essays that reflects unique personality, values, and goals.
- Campus visits and interviews.
- Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through diverse reading and leisure pursuits.
Getting Organized for Junior and Senior Year
If you are a high school Junior or Senior, you not only have to keep up with your classes and activities, but now you have something new on your plate . . . college! Here are a few tips to help you get organized.
Get a calendar
If you don't already live by one, now is the time to start. Write down all important
test dates for school as well as for the ACT or SAT. If you are a senior make
sure you note the application deadlines for the colleges you will apply to.
Organize that mail!
If you are receiving tons of mail and find it stashed everywhere, here is a simple
solution. Get an inexpensive plastic milk crate. These cost anywhere from 3$ to $8.
Buy some hanging file folders and file the schools by state (for example.) This way
you will be able to go back and find a brochure when you need it. You can also use
this system to keep track of all your application materials once you begin applying.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, re-examine your priorities. Remember, colleges
are looking for depth of involvement in extra-curricular activities over breadth. If
you are involved in too many clubs, but don't have a serious role in them- drop some
and focus more seriously on just a few.
Keep your grades up!
Remember, for most schools your high school transcript will be the most important
part of your application. Need I say more . . ?
You could be happy and successful at any number of colleges, so don't put pressure
on yourself to find that one perfect place. Instead, set a goal of choosing a group of
colleges that have the characteristics you want. If you apply wisely, there will be
plenty of colleges that will welcome you with open arms.
Take ACT or SAT in Dec, Feb, April, or June. Columbus Day is a great day to visit
Spring Break-Visit colleges
April- Take SAT subject tests
May-Take AP tests
Summer- Begin working on applications. Develop a resume, practice interview
skills, write a sample essay,
September- Take ACT or SAT in Sept, Oct, or Dec. Continue working on applications,
request recommendation letters, work on essays.
October- Retake ACT (if necessary). Research and apply for scholarships.
December- Retake ACT (if necessary). Finish applications
January- Fill out FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid)
April - Choose your college. Visit if in doubt.
May- Take AP tests