What to Know When Applying for College

Alexa R.

Staff Writer

The time has come to start the college application process, which means more stress added onto a student’s senior year. However, there are ways to avoid becoming too overwhelmed and to stay on the ball. Being prepared does not take much, as the application process can be aided by plenty of resources from teachers, admissions advisors, other college students, and even the internet. All of these combined will allow for smooth sailing on the journey to applying for college.

One way to start the college application process is by talking to teachers and staff members from school, as their experience can help immensely. Coach Dennis Conway, one of the varsity football coaches, has had kids go through applying before. He said, “The best advice I could give would be to pick a few colleges and focus mainly on those. Also, you can apply for financial aid through FAFSA starting January 1st, and applying for that is even more important than applying for the college.” FAFSA, which provides money based on financial needs and family dynamics, should definitely be a main focus, like Coach Conway said. Without it, paying for college could be incredibly difficult. FAFSA recommends that parents file their taxes before completing the FAFSA application to make it an easier process on everyone. “Visiting the different schools is important, too, because I knew someone who went somewhere they had never been and only heard from others what it was like. He ended up hating it,” Coach Conway added. Everyone has different opinions on what the college experience should be to them, so figuring that out alone is the best choice.

Not only is picking a college that feels right important, but qualifying is a challenge as well. College websites have numerous guidelines to follow – information such as the academic demographics of the previous class, what they do and do not look at to select students, and all the important dates for applying. The websites also have contact information for admissions advisors based on where the applicant lives or what kind of questions need to be answered. Emailing these different advisors has clear benefits, such as receiving first-hand advice. They are very punctual with replying and providing information, answering questions about anything from what an essay topic is asking for to whether or not early admission is a beneficial idea. Senior Craig Yaeger has applied to a few colleges already; he advises, “Make sure you have someone read over your online application before you submit it because I forgot and immediately regretted it. And I had to email an advisor because I was confused by the topic of one of the essays required.” Calling the office of admissions is a faster option if needed.

In addition to individual college websites, another website that informs about the hundreds of colleges is collegeboard.org, where the SAT registration is located. The website provides information about every college: expenses, size, location, accepted AP scores, mid-range SAT and ACT scores, offered majors, and so much more. There is also an option on the website for students to put in wants or needs of a college, and College Board will give a list of all the colleges that fit the qualifications. Ashton Tongco, senior, said, “College Board helped me to figure out what schools I should even visit to begin with, so I didn’t waste a trip to somewhere that did not have the things I was looking for.” Having a source with so much information about every college is such a gift, and all students preparing for college should utilize it.

Although colleges have different submission requirements, there are a few aspects that stay the same; applicants must complete an online application, submit an official transcript and SAT and/or ACT scores, and pay an application fee. Different colleges have varying fee prices, but based on financial need, these fees may be waived. The online application is all about the student, and since there are so many people applying for each college, most do not conduct personal interviews. Therefore, this is the only way the college can know anything about the student and what he or she has to offer. There are simple questions on the application, like full name and address, but there are also open-ended questions to see what kind of person each applicant is and to evaluate whether or not an applicant will be a good fit at the college. It is in the students’ best interest to answer these questions as thoroughly as they can and to not assume the reader will know what they are talking about. For example, when students say they participated in an unusual club or an uncommon service, a college may not know anything about that activity or what it entails. Not only does a college learn about the student in this section, but they also find out what kind of writer the applicant is. Another application requirement is for students to have their transcript sent to the college. “You go to get your transcript request form from Mrs. Correll in the main office. The first form for three colleges is free, but every additional form after that is two dollars,” Mr. Daryl Harris, guidance counselor, said. Make sure the transcript requested is “official” because most colleges will not accept unofficial transcripts. Lastly, ACT and/or SAT scores need to be sent to the colleges of interest. The websites to sign up and send these tests are collegeboard.org and actstudent.org. Another fact to remember is that a majority of colleges super score the different tests, which means they take the best of each sub score to make the total score higher, so take it as many times as possible, and send all your scores to the college.

Knowing all of these important factors going into the beginning of senior year will help in the long run. Now there will be no need to fret when the time comes to hit the submit button on the computer.

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