Ways to Prepare for College Application Process

So you are in high school, and the prospect of going to college can seem thrilling, as well as nerve-racking. You have waited for the day when you can finally move out and start living independently. But with this excitement, comes a whole bunch of responsibilities. Firstly, there’s the enormous task of filling out and submitting the application forms, which may leave you pondering where to look for guidance.

Preparing for the College Application Process

Creating a Resume

You should start preparing for this lengthy and time-consuming process when you are in the senior year in high school. Create a resume which lists your academic qualifications, extracurricular activities, and work experience, if any. The resume should portray you as a confident student and individual, and accentuate your high points. Formulate it such that it becomes an important and effective tool in your application process.

Choice of Colleges

You need to make a list of colleges you will be applying to. This may seem baffling at first, as there may be several colleges which offer the courses you want to pursue. Keep things simple by narrowing the list to five or six “most probable” colleges. Bear in mind that every application will cost you an application fee, which is nonrefundable. Take help from your parents, and also from your friends who are already in college and will guide you in the right direction, or even your school counselor, who is probably the most conversant with your academic records. Factors that dictate your choice of colleges would be cost, courses offered, location of the college, and facilities offered (recreational, dorm, labs, computing, extracurricular activities, sports, etc.).

Pay a visit to the college(s) of your choice. Take a campus tour, it will give you a feel of the college life you will soon be experiencing yourself. Chat up with students and ask their points of view on the college, including subjects offered, teaching methods, sports and recreational facilities, dorm facilities, etc. If you get a chance, meet and collect the contact numbers of all important people (professors, career counselors, admission representative, etc.), which you think will be useful to you during the process. Do not hesitate to make inquiries, the college will practically be your home in the coming years.

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)

The SAT reasoning test is used by colleges as a yardstick when offering scholarships to a student. Scoring high in SAT is very important. A good score will help you get admission into a college of repute, and also better your chances of receiving financial help. Chalk out a study plan, take expert guidance, and buy good self-study books. You can even enroll yourself in tutoring or online classes which prepare students for SAT exam. Get a lot of practice by solving mock tests. Identify your weak areas so you can work on improving them. If you are interested in applying for an “early action” or “early decision”, take your SAT in October, since these processes require you to submit your applications in November. Make sure to send your SAT and SAT subject test scores to all colleges you wish to apply.
Recommendation Letters
You will also require recommendation letters from your teachers and counselors, and your employers if you have any job experience. Ask for the letters well in advance, and then follow-up with the respective individuals to verify that your letters have been sent on time.

Essay Writing

Essay writing is an important aspect of the application process. Draft your essay very carefully. It’s your best chance to showcase your strengths and accomplishments. Make a rough draft before the actual writing. Point out things that are not a part of your resume, or elaborate on the activities and experiences mentioned in it. Write things about yourself which will highlight your merits, and narrate it in an interesting manner. Or, you could brainstorm and choose from a wide variety of topics to write on. Avoid writing on controversial subjects. Use simple and lucid language. Once you have sketched the draft, it’s time to finalize it. Take a feedback about your own writing from a trusted family or friend, someone who will offer you an unbiased opinion. Proofread it very carefully. Read and reread the essay.

College Admissions

Try to complete the process latest by November or December. Before you mail the application, make copies of every single application for your records. If you need financial assistance, contact the college office and ask for any forms or other paperwork they may require. Financing is something you should decide upon only after careful consideration and discussion with your parents and elders. A month after you mail out the applications, contact the colleges to verify whether they have actually received your application forms. Typically, colleges announce admission decisions by March or April. Go through the list of colleges you had applied to, and arrive at a decision. Fill out the enrollment form of the college of your choice, and mail it to them along with the deposit check. The deadline for most colleges to receive the forms is May 1st. Inform all the other colleges who accepted your application form that you will not be attending them, so you free up the seat for another deserving candidate. If the college of your choice puts you on their waiting list, contact them and notify them that you are still very much keen on joining them. You can mail them your latest semester grades.
While the process is sure to take up a good deal of your time, do not neglect your senior year. Study hard and continue to do well so you get excellent school grades. Colleges expect you to score high in your final school semester. Thank all those who helped you with the application process. Make sure your final year school transcript reaches your college. You will also need time to make early travel plans so you get cheap airfare deals, and do a whole lot of shopping! Approach the college application process the same way you would prepare for a job interview, with the same determination and sincerity. Investing in college education paves the way for a secure future ahead. Armed with a college degree and equipped with the necessary skills and qualities means you have better chances of finding a job, earning more money, and becoming financially secure.