Applying to college and college admissions just isn’t like it used to be. In fact, there isn’t much resemblance. Students used to receive an application from a school and completed the required information. Although it took a lot of writing, it was a pretty simple process. Essays were written or typed on the application and everything was turned into the school counseling office. There, teacher recommendations were added, along with an official transcript and test scores, all to be sent off to each college. SAT and ACT scores were included on the transcript.
Today, applying to college is quite different with almost everything being done online. While technology has improved some things, sending your application off into cyberspace leaves many students wondering what really happens to it and how do all of the pieces come together at their destination: the colleges. Essays are uploaded onto the online application, recommendations are frequently sent by Naviance, and SAT and ACT test scores are sent directly from the College Board or ACT. The only part that many high schools are still responsible for is mailing the official high school transcript and a profile of the school.
Most students need help with their college search and applying to college. They often feel overwhelmed and do not know where to turn. They can benefit from a knowledgeable parent, high school counselor or educational consultant who has the expertise and time to answer their questions and simplify the college application and college admissions process. Here are seven areas where college-bound students need assistance:
1. College Search. Make sure students do a thorough college search and advise them on whether to apply early decision, early action, or regular decision. Share your knowledge of schools which you think might be a good fit and with which students may not be familiar. Students should keep an open mind during the college search and not limit their choices.
2. Essays. Brainstorm good essay topics that help students show a side of themselves that has not come through on another part of the application. Everyone has a story to tell and this is what colleges want to hear from them.
3. Organization. Help students keep track of all deadlines for college applications, supplements, and scholarships and provide a timeline to get each of these done. Provide the organization that is essential to the college application process.
4. Applications. Proofread all applications and essays to make sure they are free of spelling and grammar mistakes. Sloppy applications and essays can land students in the reject pile.
5. Financial aid and Scholarships. Advise students on financial aid and applying for scholarships and help them to find ways to cut college costs. Suggest schools to add to their college list that are known be more generous in their financial aid.
6. Test Preparation. Discuss the SAT and ACT, subject tests and test prep, and which dates are best to take these tests. Talk about the differences in the tests and what colleges require. Some educational consultants offer test prep or you can suggest other qualified individuals.
7. Stress and Anxiety. Help relieve the anxiety that is a natural part of the college admission process. It is often a very stressful experience for students. By feeling that they have things under control, most students find the college admissions process an interesting experience. This gives them a sense of confidence and allows them to put forth their best effort.
It is unrealistic to expect high school students to navigate the college search, application and admissions process on their own. Some parents feel they can work objectively and effectively with their own children and that they have the knowledge to do so. Some high school counselors are able to provide the individual attention and time, but most simply have too many students to advise and have limited time for college counseling. Some families turn to educational consultants who specialize in helping students with the college search and application process. Their services are affordable and can be a wise investment for parents.
Students need someone to answer their questions and keep the process moving. They need support and encouragement to discover what they want in a college experience. This will help them become stronger college applicants and enable them to make informed college decisions. As a family, you need to decide what works best for you and your college-bound student. Whoever you choose, the goal should be to make applying to college and college admissions a little less stressful and no more complicated than it already is.
About the Author
Susie Watts is a college consultant and the founder of College Direction. She assists students throughout the United States with their college search, applications and essays, financial aid and scholarships and college counseling to help them become stronger college applicants. To find out how College Direction can help your student, go to http://www.collegedirection.org.
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