To all current juniors and incoming seniors, my college application process didn’t go quite as planned and I hope these tips and suggestions will help to make your experience better than mine. Most importantly: listen to people who have gone through this process before. I had countless people talk to me about the process and disregarded their advice because I thought it was an easy task.
The first thing you have to do is find out what schools you want to apply to. This is an simple enough task, just think about what you like: size, sports, potential majors, diversity, study abroad programs, location and extra-curricular clubs, just to name a few. Your guidance counselor will be able to direct you to a website that will allow you to plug in all these variables and receive the colleges with the most of your personal requirements.
After you have figured out some potential colleges, then the next step is to list the schools on a scale of acceptance rates, based on your credentials as a student. At this point you might want to visit some of the schools and go on campus tours to find out more about the different programs. After you have a good idea about what schools you are interested in, choose a number of schools based on the following: one safety school (a school you are confident you will get accepted to), two medium difficulty schools, and two stretch schools (a school that you have a low chance of getting into). It doesn’t have to match those criteria exactly but from others experiences and my own, this is the best plan to go for.
Once you have a more concrete idea of potential colleges, you can begin the application process. It is wise to involve your guidance counselor in the process as they have years of experience in helping kids with this. If you have questions then ask them! Some colleges require different specifications for applications such as differing essays, specific letters of recommendation, and references. Some of the essays can take a while to write, so I recommend getting started as early as possible for these. Also, I advise students to have a trusted peer, parent, or teacher revise the essays before submitting. Almost every college asks for letters of recommendation. It is wise to ask teachers a month or more in advance to write letters of recommendation. Remember they have work on top of other letters to write, so give them ample time. And most importantly in that process is remember to say thank you. Whether it is a handwritten letter or a gift card make sure they know of your gratitude.
You may know that SATs are usually required for college, but also know that it really is important to do well on these tests. If that requires you to retake tests to obtain a better score then do not hesitate to do so. What is not common knowledge is that when you send your scores electronically to your schools of choice, it takes two or more weeks to get to the school. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but it is what it is. This is the part that I messed up on mine so be sure to not make the same mistake as me. You can be sure not to do this by not waiting until the last possible day to apply. In fact, much of the difficulty comes from procrastination. So my last and most important piece of advice is: don’t wait until the last moment for everything. Use extra time as a fail-safe, so that you have time to figure out any problems you may encounter. Good luck to all of you in your application process.
Trevor Hutchins, Staff Writer
Senior Trevor Hutchins is a staff writer for the 2017-2018 Colonel. He is one of the few three sport athletes at LHS and is President of Key Club. Trevor is also an avid Avatar watcher, an amateur guitar player, and can “whip up an irresistible secret sauce in the kitchen.”