Sep 25, 2009

College Admissions Advice from Those Who Know: Part Two

They’ve seen it all. Members of a local high school graduating class left behind a treasure trove of college admissions advice in their responses to the prompt, “What suggestions would you offer rising seniors that you wish someone had given you before your senior year?” Last week, they covered the importance of grades, organization, and application strategies. Here’s the second installment:

  • When choosing which colleges you want to apply to, don’t follow the crowd. Just because everyone else is applying to the Ivy League schools doesn’t mean you should. Find the colleges that are right for you—don’t waste your time applying to schools that aren’t a good fit just because it’s what is expected from you.
  • Don’t live by scattergrams, use Fiske Guide, start looking for scholarships now, there are a lot of them and many are easy to win if you are willing to take the time.
  • Get your stuff done early, then you can relax when you watch your buddies working furiously to get their college essays and recommendations turned in.
  • I applied Early Action to a school that was a safety for me, and it made the process a whole lot easier. I also had schools with different deadlines that allowed for me to get decisions earlier and on a rolling basis, so by April I was already in 4 colleges. Also, don’t stress! Find schools you like, visit them if you can, and you’ll make the right decision. You WILL get into college.
  • Nag your parents to complete the FAFSA and CSS-Profile on time (or just do it yourself).
  • If you’re going to be needing scholarships for your freshman year (especially if you don’t think you will get any financial aid), start looking them up in the fall. There are lots of scholarships that you meet the requirements for, that expire by the time you finish college applications.
  • Find the right college, not the “known” college.
  • Be aware of scholarship opportunities DURING the entire process. Do not just look at a few at the beginning of the process and expect them to follow you; some require initiative.
  • Don’t be set on one school.
  • Research your schools well before applying; often some schools have merit scholarships that you have to apply for when you apply to the college. Really try and have a good mix and variety of schools where you apply. You find that your interests, personality, and situation might change in just the 7-8 months between applying and hearing back!
  • Get more sleep, don’t stress out too much.

Next week, the seniors give advice on interviews, contacting professors, and back-up plans.

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