College Application Information
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I BEGIN MY APPLICATION PROCESS?
Different schools have different deadlines. The longer you wait to apply to a school, the more competitive it will be to gain admission and scholarships. You may apply to most schools in the late summer or early fall of the senior year. Please allow plenty of time to get your paperwork done. Teachers need at least two weeks to write recommendations and counselors need two weeks to process your applications.
ARE RECOMMENDATIONS IMPORTANT?
Recommendations can be very important. Please remember to choose your references and recommendation writers with care, and to thank each person who helps you. No one should be expected to return his or her recommendation to you. They should give the recommendations directly to your guidance counselor, who will include them with your application. Recommendations delivered to an applicant do not carry the same weight as those to which the student does not have access.
Letters of Recommendation Guidelines
Who to ask?:
· Teacher(s) who know you well and can attest to your abilities, personality and potential. The college/university wants to know more about you as a student as well as a person.
· Teacher(s) who have had interaction with you through much of or a significant moment in your high school career.
· Teacher(s) who can speak to successes or improvements since you’ve been in high school.
· Teacher(s) with whom you have had a positive experience. If you were frequently in trouble or did not do your best work with a teacher, it doesn’t make sense to ask him/her to write you a letter.
How to ask:
· Explain to the teacher in writing or in person, why you’ve selected him/her to write you a letter of recommendation.
· Show respect for the teacher’s time. Ask them if writing a letter for you in the coming weeks or months would be convenient.
· When you ask, be prepared with the information the teacher will need to write the letter. Be sure to have all forms, addresses, envelopes filled out and ready to go. If the teacher is to mail the document, you should provide postage.
What you need to provide to the teacher:
· A list of your extracurricular activities at school (sports, clubs and co-curricular organizations)
· Other activities (church, dance, piano, etc.)
· Volunteer work
· Work experience
· Travel experience
· The address of the committee, college, university or organization to whom the letter is being written
· If needed, a stamped, properly addressed envelope for the final send
Things to remember:
· Ask politely. Do NOT interrupt a class to ask!
· Provide a reasonable amount of time before your deadline – 2 weeks to a month MINIMUM.
· Follow up with a thank you note to the letter writer. Letters usually take at least a half hour to complete. Some forms and on-line recommendations take much, much longer.
WHAT ABOUT MY EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES?
Your school activities are more important for some colleges than for others in determining admission (check with your college), but most colleges and organizations consider them strongly in awarding scholarships. Community service can be particularly important. While a good resume is impressive, schools are more interested in well-rounded students who have developed a few interests in depth than in "joiners."
WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE IN THE REQUIRED ESSAYS?
You should write clearly and concisely about subjects that are important to you. Readers are trying to see who you are and what makes you different from other applicants. Your essay should be carefully written and typed or copied neatly. Have at least one good writer proofread it. While a wide vocabulary is important, misusing words may seriously hurt your chances, so use only words with which you are familiar. You should not repeat information that is contained in other parts of the application, although it is fine to expand on a topic that has been mentioned briefly.
HOW MANY APPLICATIONS SHOULD I SUBMIT?
Most schools require a non-refundable application fee and many require written essays. The number of schools to which you apply depends on how much money you are willing to spend. We suggest applying to at least three colleges/universities: one state-supported school, one private school, and one "dream school"—a school to which you would apply if money and admissions requirements were not an issue.
SHOULD I APPLY ON-LINE?
Colleges encourage on-line applications. However, do not omit key steps. Sometimes the application does not go through. Most applications have a page that you must print out and bring to your counselor to complete and send with your transcript. Students occasionally omit this step. One other caution: applying online leaves your counselor out of the process, unless you discuss your plans with her first. Your counselor can give you valuable information and suggestions about the colleges you are considering and about your application.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR ON A COLLEGE VISIT?
Set up an appointment and go on a tour, if possible. Walk around campus. Eat in the school dining hall. Approach students and or faculty, if they don’t seem to be in a hurry. Ask questions, both of yourself and others:
* What help is available if I have difficulty with my courses?
* What access to computers and other equipment on campus is provided for students?
* What intramural or collegiate sports are available?
* What is the atmosphere on campus? Friendly? Caring? Relaxed? Competitive? (You should re-visit your "short list" in the fall, if possible, as the atmosphere on campus is always different in the summer.)
* Is it possible for you to sit in on classes or meet with a professor in your possible major? What is the faculty like? Caring? Friendly? Focused on research, or on the classroom?
* How many courses, if any, do graduate students teach? (This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to know. Some colleges are justifiably proud of the "stars" on their faculty, but they may be available only to graduate students.)
* What are the advantages of attending a school in a small or mid-sized town? In a large city? How many graduates find jobs in their fields? What does the school do to help them?
* What percentage of students who apply are accepted to graduate, medical or law school?
* What is the best value for the money? Compare the cost, facilities, courses, and opportunities offered by various schools.