Start your College Applications with these Admissions Tips…
The summer is a good time to acquire work experience, take a course or two, and chill out. You can do this, however, and still get a head start on your college applications. What steps can you take to be ready for fall and the college application season?
(1) Narrow Your Colleges of Interest List
You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin as you explore colleges. Limit yourself to around ten to twelve schools for additional research. Consider size, region, academic strengths, attrition and graduation rates, and extra-curricular opportunities as you winnow down the list. Moreover, examine admissions standards including GPA and median test scores to determine your prospects for being accepted. This information can be found in US News and World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” issue.
(2) Contact Departments in Possible Majors
The savvy applicant will move beyond conventional criteria for evaluating schools and contact departments in possible majors. Prioritize teaching by asking about class size and the percentage of classes using full-time tenured and tenure-track professors. Pose questions on placement rates in jobs and graduate schools.
(3) Visit College Campuses and Arrange Interviews
Once your school year starts there will be limitations on how many colleges you can visit. Use the summer to jump-start this process and try to arrange an interview. This is crucial at small schools which are often more inclined to accept students who display an interest beyond an application. Find out if there are professors with whom you can meet. Talk to students while clarifying whether they attend school during the regular academic year. Ask about student support services such as writing and tutoring services and the career services office.
(4) Identify Application Requirements for Colleges of Interest
Look into essay topics, test requirements, recommendations, and submission deadlines of your priority schools and record them on a spread sheet.
(5) Outline a Personal Statement That You Can Incorporate into Applications and Create a Resume
Your personal statement will be tailored to individual schools, but as a preliminary step deliberate on your academic and non-academic strengths and what makes you distinctive. Think about how these traits have been exhibited in your academic work and non-academic activities. In addition, formulate a one page resume highlighting your accomplishments inside and outside of class.
(6) Examine Financial Aid Options
With your parents, investigate federal, state and local, and college based sources of financial aid. The more selective colleges are often costlier than others, but usually provide more financial assistance.
(7) Arrange For Letters of Recommendation
Contact teachers concerning recommendations. Provide them with your resume and indicate that submission details will follow.
Preparing for your college applications is an investment into your future. The payoff is no less than more opportunities and a better life.
David Dickson is an admissions counselor at Top Test Prep which offers private tutoring and test preparation with admissions experts who help you gain admission to your top schools. Call Top Test Prep at (800) 501-Prep to learn more about how you can improve your college applications.