Friday, September 12, 2008

Senior Year and College Applications


Phew! My son has started his senior year which comes with the dreaded buzz words accompanying college applications such as: college advising, final SAT's, essays, recommendations, honors this, honors that and of course as many AP's as you can manage. This process can be overwhelming and to tell you the truth we find the experience somewhat foreign since back in the day, we passed the requisite exams applied to university and we were in. It is different now what with so many exceptional applicants vying for so few slots.

Our son's school subscribes to naviance.com and we have access to family connection. The college advising department through naviance uses the gpa, sptitude tests, application, and acceptance statistics from the school to assist in creating a list of colleges as a starting point for each applicant. The list comprises schools with a 70% (safeties) to a 30% (stretches) likely acceptance.

Using that as a guide we sought to assist our son to make the proceess a bit less fearsome than it appears, by taking these six steps.


1. Make a list of ten (10) schools which you find most appealing. This process will necessarily involve researching schools online or via other resources. You may find that the list changes based on the outcome of the research. You can include more or less than 10 bearing in mind the competitive process and the cost of each application.

2. Determine the application requirements for each school such as name, address, test requirements, application deadline. application fee and Common application acceptance and required supplements. Print information for each school.

3. Open individual folders for each school and insert printed information obtained above. Include common application and supplement sheets and specific application form for schools which do not accept the common application.

4. Read the personal essay questions carefully and choose the ones which most speak to you and with which you feel most comfortable. The essay must show the college who you are, so it is important to be natural, not stilted.

5. Write essays. Our son wrote and re-wrote several essay drafts this summer. Some students will start in the fall. In any case a good guide can be found at college confidential and other websites. It is not easy to show yourself in 500 words so ask someone to read your essay to see if it really reflects who you are. Try to draw on your memory of anecdotes in your short life. Your english teacher may also be a good person to consult before you rush out to buy the Instant College Admission Essay Kit . Just take a deep breath and start.

6. Make list of teachers whom you think you can approach for powerful recommendations. Approach them as early as possible as they will be bombarded with similar requests.

In addition to the above, students who can should visit the colleges to which they are applying and arrange for interviews where possible. It is not unheard of for college alumni to schedule telephone interviews. Many high schools may have college fairs this fall so students should attend and make contact with the college representatives. Get started, don't wait until the last minute.

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