How To Apply For College
Studies show that, on average, college grads are offered jobs at much higher starting salaries than people with just a high school diploma. Applying for college may seem like a hassle, but the process doesn’t have to be difficult. During your junior and senior years of high school, start applying to a number of colleges so you have many choices when it comes time to decide where to study after high school.
Start by visiting colleges. When choosing the colleges to which you want to apply, you can just do research online (since you aren’t yet making any firm decisions), but most colleges charge an application fee. If you take the time to visit the college, however, almost all will waive this fee, allowing you to apply to more colleges without breaking the bank.
Visiting also allows you to set up an interview with someone in the admissions office. The interview should go two ways – you’ll ask them questions about the campus and programs of study and they’ll ask you questions about your academic career, areas of interest, and plans for the future. If you have an interview, you are much, much more likely to be accepted, especially if your grades and SAT scores aren’t top of the line. The interview is optional most places, but colleges are getting much more competitive, so this is a part of the application process you shouldn’t ignore. Here are some great interview tips to help you prepare.
When it comes to the application itself, there will typically be three parts. First, you’ll have a section that is all about your personal identification information (like address and phone number), as well as what year you’d like to attend and whether or not you know anyone or are related to anyone who goes to the college (or has gone to the college in the past). The second part will ask you specific questions about your academic and social history, including your SAT or ACT test scores, your club participation, and other short answer questions. The final part is typically one to three essays (most colleges ask for just one).
The essay can make or break your application. Usually, a school determines acceptance by first looking at your grades, test scores, and high school activities. They make three piles – yes, no, and maybe. From the “maybe” pile, the school reads the essays to determine which students should be accepted. Some colleges allow you to submit an essay on any subject that interests you. Others give you a choice of writing prompts.
Within your essay, you want to emphasize the good qualities you’re bringing to the campus. Treat your essay as a persuasive piece on why they should pick you to attend their school, and follow these tips for writing the piece. Even if your test scores and grades are very high, your essay could be important. Many colleges go through their “yes” pile as well to ensure through the essays that these really are the best candidates for students.
After you’ve completed the essay, the waiting game begins. Make sure you observe all deadlines, and as you start to receive letters of acceptance, mark on your calendar the date you’ll have to return their letter with a firm yes or no, so that your applications don’t go to waste. Good luck!