By Brianna Lackwood ‘17
Juniors, start capitalizing on your time and start thinking about your lives after high school.
As colleges do make it known that it is a year of great value, attention should not to be placed solely on making one’s GPA attractive, there things are other things to be considered as well.
Ms. Marisa Koeppel, a college counselor, stated that just as GPA is of value, so is a student’s initiative. Junior year is the time where you should start researching colleges to get a head start in narrowing down your choices. Making lists of colleges, visiting schools, and sorting out which schools seem to be the best fit will put you on a straight path to working toward your future.
Despite this encouragement you may still have some anxiety, clear products of thinking so far ahead.
“I am apprehensive about where I want to go,” said Chelsea Kingston ‘17. “I want to make sure that I choose the college that will best cater to me.”
The college office gives students many tools to help the process. Naviance, a college career and readiness platform, offers further instruction.
Yu Liang ‘17 stated Naviance has been beneficial in helping her find her target, reach, and safe schools. With quizzes and activities students are given a sense of which majors and careers may be the best fit for them. Not only is this the case, but once you start putting Naviance to use, you can upload your college application information.
References, recommendations and other documents are sent to colleges through Naviance, making it easier to connect students to the schools that they wish to apply to. As it is accessible to all, every junior should be using this site. Also, another platform called Common App, where you can also fill out information for colleges when the time comes, can be matched with your naviance account. Get your Naviance acces code from your guidance counselor.
Teacher recommendations are needed for your application. Usually colleges want one humanities teacher and one math or science teacher to write about your work in their class. Don’t wait to ask for these letters. Ask three teachers to write your short recommendations. The forms can be found on Midwoodhighschool.org at the college and career office tab. These will be sent to the college office so that the counselors will have stories about you to add to their profiles.
First ask a teacher who likes you. Try to ask recent teachers from classes you did well in. Give the teachers a few weeks to write these letters. Some teachers may ask you for a brag sheet, or a transcript or resume.
In the fall you will ask teachers to write the longer recommendations which get sent directly to the colleges. Some of those are posted directly to Naviance.
After putting these to use, you may be curious about how you will cover college finances.
“I am most nervous about not getting any of the scholarships I apply for,” said Gabriella Shery ‘17
In the college office, there is a bulletin board with a plethora of scholarships that both seniors and juniors can apply to. On Naviance as well, there is a section dedicated to scholarships similar to the one that can be found on Midwood’s website.
In fact, the scholarships posted in the college office (room 115) and on the school’s website are specific to those won by Midwood students. They are further filtered by the fact that certain organizations want Midwood students and applicants from the neighborhood. By liking the college office’s facebook page, and staying tuned on Naviance, students are also directly linked to many options via posts and emails.
To do your own scholarship search, stated Ms. Koeppel, visit fastweb.com and chegg.com. Though the scholarships provided are mostly for seniors, it is highly advised that you take the opportunities to peruse both websites.
Another way to cover finances is through financial aid (Federal Student Aid). When schools provide you with a financial aid packet it is broken down into loans which must be paid back but can be turned down, grants, and scholarships. Grants do not need to be paid back, and these scholarships are different in the sense that they are offered to you from the college itself. Acquired based on merit, status, major interests and so much more, scholarships are provided to cover the costs of many things. Along with the entire packet, you can pay for books, room and board, and many other expenses.
Make sure that the colleges you are interested in will match your financial needs. If the cost is a reach, start looking for scholarships that both outside organizations and the colleges provide that you know will support you in the future. Furthermore, you can take out loans from the government (through colleges) and private banks. In doing so is it also important to take heed of loan interest rates.
If you are interested applying to both private and public colleges visit collegeboard.com. There you can find information on how to apply and what is required for a College Scholarship Profile (CSS), specially for private schools, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) for both public and private colleges.
The rundown of all of this information can be further clarified with a quick trip to the college office to speak to Ms. Koeppel and Ms. Lorrie Director who is also a college counselor. In fact, Ms. Koeppel and Ms. Director have been visiting junior classes to do just that.
“I was excited,” said Sheray. “Having Ms. Koeppel come to my class was eye opening.”
Taking about 40 minutes, in these junior orientations Ms. Koeppel presents a slide-by-slide powerpoint that in simple, yet great detail, explain the college application process. If you have missed out, this same information is available under the college office tab on Midwood’s website.
Certain colleges require a personal essay from students applying. There will be topics on what you should base your essay on. For example, a popular topic is to discuss an accomplishment or event that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s convenient to start thinking or writing your essay early so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. Even though some colleges don’t require one, it’s still beneficial to include one in your application.
Furthermore, certain colleges might demand an additional essay based on what major or program you’ve chosen.
After completing your essay it’s a good idea to have a teacher (preferably an English teacher) revise your essay to make sure it’s perfect or at least makes sense. Besides the essay, your SAT or ACT scores are requested. That could be done on collegeboard.com where you had to create a profile to schedule when to take one of these test. After the scores have been uploaded, you then have to send your scores to the colleges you’ve applied to.
In addition, pay attention to college application deadlines because different colleges have different deadlines, and you don’t want to miss out on applying to your top colleges. Some colleges have different application processes, so it’s worthwhile to research your colleges beforehand.
If college does not seem like a prospect, it is especially important that you take the initiative to seek out information.
“We’re open to giving information to all types of future possibilities,” said Ms. Koeppel.
If you do not wish to go to college, you are more than welcome to discuss with either college counselors options in terms of working, career programs, trade school, and even military enlistment. The possibility is open to you right now, so make the best with it while you can, and remember that your hard work counts for a lot.
Now, consider where your grades may lie in comparison to where you want them to be. What steps will you take to maintain or better them? Do not be afraid to be proactive. Seek out guidance and help with any outstanding questions from your guidance counselors and the college counselors.
Chelsea Allamby ’16 contributed to this article