Applying to College:Six Steps to Making a Good Match Cindy Turner, MA, NCC Director of College Counseling The Davidson Center
College 101 Refresher • What colleges want • How to find information about colleges • Distinct responsibilities of students, parents, and the school during this process • Timeline of college planning during high school (see COLLEGE PLANNING TIMELINE)
College planning can be… a difficult, stressful, worrisome, and rushed process aimed at winning a prize. But at Woodlawn School, College planning will be… a thoughtful, intentional journey of self-discovery aimed at a satisfying college experience and lifelong fulfillment.
The College Admissions World: What’s it like out there? • Toughest competition for college admission in US history • Both public and private universities are seeing increase in applications • Private schools are trying to compete with public schools for top students • Merit aid may be affected by shrinking endowments. Yes, it’s tough. And yes, you will be fine! Remember, your best match school will want you to attend there as much as you do. Find your match.
OVERVIEWThe College Admissions Process:How does this work? • Step 1: Succeed today • Step 2: Research choices • Step 3: Finalize your list • Step 4: Apply • Step 5: Sort out the finances • Step 6: Enroll in your college
Step 1: Succeed Today • The success of your college application process depends mainly on what you are doing in high school right now. • You have already started your college application – how does it look?
What Do Colleges Want? • Intellectual curiosity • Academic ability • Passion • Leadership • Initiative • Interest areas • Responsibility • Dedication • Unique qualities And how do you show that?
Admission Factors(loosely in order of importance) • Rigorous curriculum • Strong grades with an upward trend • Test scores that are consistent with grades • Passionate involvement in a few activities • Well-written and personal essays • Recommendations suggesting intellectual curiosity • Demonstrated interest in the college • Something that makes you stand out
Curriculum • Colleges will LOVE the Woodlawn curriculum! • The first thing colleges look at is the strength of your senior schedule. You will all have strong schedules. • Rigor matters more than GPA. All Woodlawn classes are hard, so don’t compare your GPA to that of students at other schools. • You will have 4 years of the 4 core areas. • You will have intense Spanish instruction. • You will have meaningful electives to make you well-rounded students.
SAT/ACT andSAT Subject Tests • Which test is better for you? • When should you take it/them? • How should you prepare? • What do the scores really mean?
Activities • What is the right amount? • Choose activities that show passion, leadership, and initiative. • Try to show development of interest areas through your activities. • Community service: Think IMPACT, not HOURS!
Step 2: Research Your Choices • Finding your college matches takes time, research, and determination. • Do not rush through this step! • LOOK FOR YOUR BEST MATCH. Colleges are as unique as students. • Who are you? What do you want? • Majors/Careers… • Do detailed research: • Internet (see handout) • Books • People • Visits
Campus Visits • GET OUT • THERE! • Do the official campus tour and information session/interview. (“demonstrated interest”) • Ask lots of questions! • Meet with a student/professor in your area of interest. • Spend additional time on the campus (eat, read in the library, walk around buildings, attend a class, spend the night in dorm room) • Take notes about your observations. • Send thank you notes to the Admissions Office.
Athletes • Register at https://web1.ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter/common/ • Eligibility Center lists all the rules – READ THEM! • Juniors should have information to coaches by January. Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians, and Writers • Be aware of special auditions and/or portfolios required by your programs. • Deadlines come quickly!
Step 3: Finalize you Match List • After thorough research, narrow your list down to a manageable number. • Most students apply to 4-8 schools. • 2 safety, 2 match, 2 reach • Be sure to include a financial safety school.
Step 4: Apply! • Aim to finish by Thanksgiving. • CFNC.org and commonapp.org • College Application Week (Nov) • Early Action (restricted and non) • Early Decision • Regular Decision • Application Pieces: • Online form - School Forms • Test Scores - Other Recommendations • Transcript - Essay
Recommendations • School Counselor • Will fill out “school forms” • Will provide school profile • Other Recommenders • Teachers • Coaches, Employers, Pastors • How Many? It Depends… • Details: • Allow 4-6 weeks. • Include your resume/activity list. • Include stamped, addressed envelopes. • Fill out the student portion. • Check the box to waive your right to see the completed form. • Write thank you notes to those who write recommendations for you.
The Essay • Make sure you have something to say! (take risks, challenge yourself, go on an adventure, help others, make a change) • Don’t stress about this. You are Woodlawn students. You can write!
Step 5: Sort out the Finances • Be sure to include a financial safety school in your list of colleges. • Complete FAFSA and Profile (if required) in January of the senior year. • Pursue merit-based scholarships at each school. • Apply to local scholarship competitions.
Step 6: Enroll in your College • Make additional visits, if needed. • Send in your enrollment/housing deposit as soon as you make a decision. • National Decision Day is MAY 1 of your senior year. • Celebrate!
Closing Thoughts • This can and should be fun! • Enjoy the journey together. • Students should take the lead. • Get started now!