Overview – Questions for Studentsand Family Who am I? Are you committed to applying to college? Have you started to think about applying to college? Have you visited a college campus (other than Columbia!)? When do you think you should start the college application process? Do you have a timeline in place for applying to college? Do you have a checklist in place for applying to college?
Why does college matter?Is college for me? 2 year vs. 4 year vs. vocational school? More education = choices (you can be a mechanic or own the mechanic shop) More education = access to people you otherwise would not encounter and exposure to new and exciting possibilities More education = higher paying job (upwards of 98% more money is earned when you have a college degree) More education = more education!
Timeline - Junior High School –Freshman Year Create a timeline for the next 4 years Make sure your grades are excellent Maintain excellent grades Start to prepare for transitioning into high school Find a mentor Take challenging courses: Especially the STEM areas. 26% of students who do not take geometry go on to college whereas 71% of students who do take geometry go on to college: http://www2.ed.gov
Timeline – Junior High – FreshmanYear continued Take challenging courses in the arts, computer science, foreign languages Start thinking about advanced placement and college credit courses once you get into high school. Be prepared to discuss this with your counselor Talk to your family or your mentor (remember them). Start planning financially, start looking into financial aid, scholarships and grants (some of this will depend on the kind of grades you get in high school so plan accordingly) www.nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cool/
Timeline – Junior High – FreshmanYear continued Volunteer/Community Service Internships/Part-time job (with your family’s permission and if time permits) Keep your social media and your behavior squeaky clean!
Timeline Freshman-Junior Years Do well in school Cultivate relationships with mentors Begin to visit schools Do well in school!! Start to research scholarships and grant programs Create your resume
Timeline Freshman-Junior Years continued Get involved in extracurricular activities you actually enjoy Review your timeline and make sure you’re on schedule Create a checklist of “to do” items Having trouble in a particular area – get help from teachers, after school programs and mentors Surround yourself with supportive friends. If your friends aren’t supporting you then they’re not your true friends!
Junior Year/Summer before Senior Year Review your resume Visit as many prospective colleges as possible and make appointments with admissions counselors and financial aid counselors (is community college an option?) List all the colleges you want to apply to Register for SATs Take an SAT prep course (seek out financial aid/scholarships)
Fall Senior Year Speak with your guidance counselor and make sure you’re on track with grades and classes Complete your college list and make sure you have a few safety schools and a few reach schools (your counselor and family will be able to assist with this) Are you applying ED or EA anywhere? What are you waiting for! Start preparing for the college interview
Fall Senior Year Start identifying who you will need letters of recommendation from and give them plenty of notice Take the SATs and make sure you’re having your scores sent to the appropriate schools Keep filling out applications. Read read read!
Winter-Spring Senior Year Make sure your counselor has sent in your grades Make sure you’ve finished your application and get it in as soon as possible (some schools have rolling admission) Keep those grades up – some schools want to see grades through senior year Get into schools! Visit schools one final time and make your decision (wait list issues or no acceptance) Thank everyone that helped you during the process (preferably with actual letters)
The College Essay Distinguish between short answers, direct questions and general essay/personal statement What does the school want from you – make sure you give them what they want!
College Essay Tips Think about what you want to write about Do you have a resume? If so take a look at it to refresh your memory about what you’ve done. What have you accomplished? What makes you unique or different? Do you have a favorite book or movie that has had particular importance in your life?
Tips continued Other topic areas: A trying time in your life that you’ve overcome? Very substantial extracurricular activities that you have or are participating in? Someone who has a great deal of meaning for you and has been a great influence on your life Discuss why you want to go to this particular school and how the school will help you reach your goals/dreams (and discuss what THOSE are!)
Tips continued You’re stuck! You need more help deciding what to write about: Talk with friends, teachers, family members, trusted mentors (don’t forget about your mentors!) Keep thinking! As long as you’ve started early enough you’ll have enough time to come up with a topic
Essay Writing Tips Start early! Write your first draft and the continue to write drafts. You’ll need several drafts before you can finalize the essay Have someone else read it to make sure it conveys what you want it to convey No typos! Read it once more before considering it final
Take-aways (make sure you dothis!) Make your essay consistent with the rest of your application (if you have a 2400 SATs and 4.0 average you’re not struggling in school so don’t write an essay that says that) You can use your essay to explain certain parts of your application, just don’t repeat what’s already in your application Diversity is great – discuss this if it applies to you
Take-aways continued Remember – your essay topic says a lot about who you are and what you care about so choose wisely
Pitfalls to avoid Don’t try for tricks or something for shock value The essay should tell your reader something that the rest of the application does not tell them Don’t go over the word limit (part of this is to test can you follow directions) Don’t make up stories (honesty is the best policy)