Oct 2, 2009

College Admissions Advice from Those Who Know: Part Three

Over the last two weeks, members of a local high school graduating class have offered college admissions advice on everything from grades and stress to scholarships and financial aid. In the last of a three-part series, they provide a few additional thoughts in response to the prompt, “What suggestions would you offer rising seniors that you wish someone had given you before your senior year?”
  • When visiting colleges, stay over with a student. Don’t just take a tour and go to the information center.
  • Definitely contact professors in the departments/programs you are interested in—they’re always willing to talk to prospective students and it’s a great way to feel out different schools. Show great amounts of active interest in your top choice schools, especially if you’re trying to get merit money, because it shows them that you’re genuinely interested and they’re more likely to offer money to a student who plans to actually attend.
  • Do not hesitate to apply somewhere that you like (or think you might like) because of its rank or prestige. If you could see yourself there, apply.
  • Start attacking outside scholarships as soon as possible. Your counselor and college/career center have huge lists. Unless your family’s loaded, money is probably going to be a big factor in deciding where you are going to end up going to college.
  • Don’t start thinking that after applications are in you will be home free. I was not prepared for the amount of time I would need to spend going to and from college interviews or filling out scholarship applications. It’s not a bad thing, but I wish I was more prepared for the continued time commitment.
  • Your college decision is about you, not your friends, family, or classmates. Do your applications early. Don’t freak out, everything will work out okay.
  • I would suggest that rising seniors take advantage of interview opportunities. After applying to various universities, some of them will offer optional interviews. These interviews, though they may seem intimidating, are a great opportunity to share a lot of good qualities. Interviews almost never hurt one’s application.
  • I approached my college application as a process of self-discovery (as various people and books advised me to do), which made it really stressful and difficult because obviously, it is hard to determine what you’re going to do with your life at the age of 17/18. So I think my advice to people would be not to take it too seriously. Just focus on being honest and trust your gut, and you’ll probably be happy wherever you end up.
  • Don’t get your hopes up too high; stay grounded when waiting for college acceptance and rejection letters, because you never can tell what it is that a school is looking for. Some people you would expect to get into certain colleges have been waitlisted or even rejected, so don’t be disappointed if it happens to you because every year they want something different. Don’t be afraid to apply to several safety schools or think that it’s a waste of time.
  • It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get into your top choice college. Take a deep breath and look at your options. Go visit the places where you’ve been accepted into and always keep an open mind. You just might find yourself falling in love with a college that you did even really think about before.

There it is—college admissions advice from those who know!

NOTE: I’m looking for other high school classes willing to provide similar advice and counsel on various topics related to college admissions. If you know of a class or group of high school students who might be interested in having their comments published here or on Examiner.com, please be in touch at Nancy@CollegeExplorations.com.

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