It’s go time, Juniors! College applications are around the corner so here’s the rundown about the whole process.
First things first: take a breath. The whole process can be overwhelming so it is okay to take a breather while you prepare for the next step in your life.
“Perhaps the most stressful year out of my four years here at Midwood would be my final year,” said Nicky Chan ‘17. “College applications made me stressed out because it was hard to decide where and when to apply for schools that may impact you for the rest of your life.”
You should make sure you’re always on top of your work as there is a lot that needs to be done. Consider making a checklist to keep track of important due dates and steps that you need to complete. Also, make sure you regularly check Naviance as it is an important tool designed to guide you through the process. If you forgot the password to your account, contact your guidance counselor.
Book a college office appointment for the fall. This is not necessary, but it is very helpful to review your options.
“The application process was not as difficult as I thought since the college office provided a lot of assistance,” said David Xiao ‘17.
During the appointment, you will discuss with your college counselor your GPA, standardized test scores, and potential colleges you are looking at. It is okay to be unsure of what schools you want to go to, the purpose of the meeting is to guide you. The appointment is half a period if you go by yourself or a full period if you go with a parent. Students typically have an appointment in the spring of junior year or the fall of senior year. Spots fill up quickly so make sure you book now.
Xiao added, “You’re able to go back anytime, and they will be there to answer any questions that you may have which is really helpful and supportive.”
Ask for recommendations early! It is vital that you ask the teachers you would like to write you one as soon as possible, typically in the spring of junior year to early senior year. Colleges want two long recommendations and the college office would like three short recommendations from you. The long recommendations are sent directly to colleges, and it is important that you have teachers write good things about you. The short recommendations are stored in the college office so your college counselor can write a recommendation for you.
Check your college list, it should include just right, reach, and safety schools. To create a final list, you should do quite a bit of research on the schools that best fit your needs as there are many factors to consider. This may even require another appointment with your college counselor. Visiting potential colleges can be helpful to grasp the environment of the campus and determine if it’s the right fit for you.
“My experience with the process is researching colleges and all the statistics rather than studying and doing my homework,” said Joyce Chen ‘18.
Be aware of what your colleges want and retake the SAT or ACT. Many schools have specific requirements on what scores they want for the SAT/ACT.
Justin Jiang ‘18 said, “In some ways [the required SAT/ACT score can be intimidating], but I find it a great way to motivate myself to work harder to reach the cutoff score. If I get a score below, I say to myself, ‘Oh hey, I’m at this point now, what can I do to improve?’ Keeping that mindset breaks off the intimidation.”
You don’t need to be directly on point with their desired scores, but you should at least be in their range. Most colleges want either test so you should choose the one that best fits you.
Apply for every scholarship/federal aid program you can! There are several opportunities out there; you shouldn’t limit yourself to one. A common federal aid program is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that has helped millions of kids pave their way through college. Stay vigilant and keep track of programs that are meant to benefit you.
Applying for college takes quite a long time so you should make sure you start early and you follow all the necessary protocols for this process. Most of your college application will be in a program called the Common App (except for the City University of New York which uses CUNY Portal). Your private information, essays, test scores/GPA, and awards will be stored there so you could easily send this to every college you are applying to. However, some colleges may want you to do some specific work, such as writing an essay aimed for that school. The main essays that you will write are the ones issued by the Common App, which can be found on Naviance. You will be able to send your recommendations to colleges through Naviance or the mail, but not through the Common App. Regular admission deadlines typically fall anywhere from December to February and colleges reveal results from March to April.
Finally, consider if early action or early decision is the right decision for you. As a quick review, both plans allow for your college application to be reviewed earlier so you may receive a verdict quicker. Early decision is binding, however, meaning you would only be able to send one of these applications to only one college. Whether you should apply early action or decision varies person to person. You should review your options if you want to apply this way or the regular way. Early applications are usually due in November and you typically see a result much faster than regular admissions.
“Know when all of the due dates are. Mark it on your calendar or planner. No one is going to remind you,” said Emily Ng ‘17.
This is just the general view of what you need to do, there are many intermediate steps involved. This is not an easy process and it marks a major transition from high school. Following these guidelines can make your college experience a little bit less stressful!