Sophomores are starting to do research online about pretty campuses, good cities to go to school and overall test score requirements. Juniors are booking last minute spring break college tours and narrowing down their lists. Seniors are mostly waiting…waiting for response letters, waiting to leave, waiting for freedom!
I want to recommend a few resources for all families that are thinking about sending their kid to college.
This is the guide that I used when I was going through the college selection process . I think the Fiske rating system is good and is usually pretty right on judging the type of community each school has. It is a huge book, many college counseling offices also have this book, you could always borrow theirs, but I marked mine up, added post-its and questions and planned my college tours from it.
I think it is important for families, especially if they want to break into a top 50 school to understand college admissions as a sort of game to beat. It is very hard not to take a rejection or waitlist letter personally. Thinking of the application process as an arbitrary and sometimes cruel system can help teens not take it so personally…and better understand how to approach college applications.
If you write a good, no, a great essay, you have a much higher chance of getting into the school. Writing a good essay is also important for college in general and is worth you or your child practicing writing a persuasive, interesting personal statement. I also recommend starting the college essay early and going through many drafts.
When you are starting the college process you need to take notes on everything–or at least you should. You should be brainstorming ideas, characteristics of schools you like, you need to have a notebook for when you go on college tours or meet with admissions officers. This is one of your most basic tools for the college process.
5) File Box
Organize, organize, organize. Luckily more and more of the paperwork is online and in electronic format, which is why you should also make corresponding files in your computer. Make files for financial forms, admissions papers, FAQs, handouts, copies of applications, notes and pamphlets.
Whether you are a sophomore or a senior get a calendar! Put in all deadlines and dates for applications, FAFSA forms, college fairs and meetings. You should also add in reminders such as “look at 10 schools online” or “order 4 Brochures from Schools of Interest by Friday.” Because you are dealing with normal school along with applications, time can pass you by and you might forget your important dates!
7) Everything You Need To Know Before College by Matthew Paul Turner
This is better for Seniors who are in that horrible waiting time and need something to think about while trying to make it through their last few months. I will be posting another post as it gets closer to the summer about what all pre-freshman should bring to college, but I started reading a book like this my senior year and it got me really excited and made waiting easier.
8) Photo Copier (Scanner or Kinko’s card)
Please, please, please copy every application you send out. I cannot tell you how many times my friends have spent hours on an application and then it got lost in the mail and the school emails them one day before it’s due telling them that they never received anything. It is really smart to have back-ups of everything you send out for verification purposes, just in case they lose something and in case you want to look at what you wrote about again.
Every time you meet with an admissions officer or an alumni or college counselor you should send them a personalized hand-written thank you note. This is not only polite, but it will make you stand out from other applicants and show them you appreciate their time. It is also a great way to mention that last honor you received, how much you love their school or an interesting and memorable fact.
10) Digital Camera
If you go and visit a bunch of campuses like I did, they all start to blend together. It is great to take a digital camera whenever you visit a campus and take a few pictures of the campus and buildings so you remember it and then file it away in your filebox in a file labeled after that school.
I will be doing another post when it gets a little closer with a college packlist and materials to get before you go. Remember that this is a stressful and arbitrary process, but if you are well prepared you can get into the school of your dreams!
Dream big, work hard and you will get there!