College Applications

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Is it that time already?

Yes, It's college applications time.

By now, some of you have assessed your grades, scores, interests, and career goals, and are beginning to look at colleges and universities that might be of interest to you.

If not, there is no time like the present.

Speaking of career goals, you do not have to know what you want to study, or what your career goals might be.

Over 50% of college students change their minds at least one time during college, and many don't have a clue.

Your first two years, in all but a few majors, you will be taking liberal arts courses, and basic requirements. This gives you time to look around and think about what interests you. Therefore, you probably would not be enrolling at, say, an engineering school, but rather a university that offers a variety of majors.

When first thinking about college applications, take a look at the "Points to Ponder" section of the Everything about College Home Page, which gives you a check list of things to consider when deciding if a school is a fit for you.


At the end of your junior year...by August anyhow...September for sure...October?

I know you are probably not going to follow my advice and get your college applications stuff done in a timely manner-but I feel compelled to encourage you to get started.

No, you'll wait and do it in the fall, rushing around and feeling stressed.

So, maybe you could inch your way through a few things before school starts?

Print out The Senior Year Calendar to help you stay on track.


So, here it comes:

If you need to take the SAT or ACT again, sign up in September for the October test.

  • Study for the tests.
  • Check the admissions site for your schools of choice to learn their deadline for taking entrance exams.

    Take any SAT II exams you need in November. Check your schools of interest to see their requirements for the last date you may take the tests.

    Oh, and, BTW, you do not have to have your SATs completed before you submit your college applications, just by the deadlines required by your colleges of interest.

    Visit campuses of interest to you. For a reach school, however, that is far away, apply first, and if you are accepted, then spend the time and money for a visit.

    Be thinking about filling out college applications, and writing the Application essays.

    Print out paper copies of all your applications so you can practice filling them out, figuring out what goes where, and deciding how to prioritize activities, while you can shuffle the pages around.

    Submit online, ahead of the deadline, if possible.

    Glance over our list of essay topics so you can be thinking about them and making notes in your Brag Book about possible essays for your college applications.


    Where are the applications?

    When are they available?

    When are they due?

    By now you should be familiar with the websites of schools that are of interest to you. This familiarity should include information about college applications and related requirements. Register and sign up on their web sites. This is important. Oh, and, use an adult sounding email address. Hawaii Surfer Dude is not an adult email address.

    Don't choose a school because of its name or designer-label reputation, look for schools where you will feel you belong, that your family can afford, and that offer possibilities that are important to you.

    Fine arts majors, may be required to apply first to the school, and then to the college or department of his or her interest. That second portion of the process may include a video or other portfolio items related to the student's talent.

    Athletes may been communicating with a particular coach (good idea) who will require videos, CDs, or DVDs of the student's activity in that sport.

    APPLY: Admissions Web Sites for all Public Colleges and Universities in the United States

    Private Schools: The Common Application may also require that the student fill out their "Supplementary Form". Make a list of your "reach schools", "sure thing" schools, and safety net" schools.

    The Common Application is used by almost 600 colleges and universities; most, (but not all, such as The University of Michigan for fall 2011) are private institutions,

    This application makes it easier for you to apply to multiple schools, since you will fill out one college application, write one essay, and then designate which schools are to receive your application.

    All this information will be available at the Common App site by mid-July for the 2010-2011 applications.

    We have information about the Common Application essay requirements on our Application Essays pages and on Common Essay Topics

    Depending on your grades, athletic ability, or talents in some area such as drama, music, or other fine arts, you may be contacted by schools who have learned of you and your skills. Stay in touch via email with your contact. And if a school seems particularly interested in you, ask your contact the department's process for your college application College Interviews


    Here's an exchange heard frequently in house-hold across the United States and Canada:

    Parent: "How was school today?"

    HS Senior: OK."

    Parent: "How are your applications coming?"

    HS Student: "OK."

    Parent: "How are your essays coming?"

    HS Senior: "OK."

    Parent: "What about your teacher recommendations?"

    HS Senior: "OK."

    Parent: "Did you have your transcripts and scores sent?"

    HS Senior: "Not yet."

    Parent: "Did you talk to your counselor today?"

    HS Senior: "Can we talk about something else already?"


    Ways to Avoid the inevitable parent-student friction:

    There's nothing like the fall of your senior year to drive your parents crazy, making them hover and nag, sweat and complain. College applications deadlines loom ominously in the not-so-distant future, and not a day goes by without your mom or dad reminding you of them.


    In the meantime, you are also stressed between school, senior activities, SATs, and college stuff. (Possibly because you didn't do what I suggested earlier, you did what I would have done in your place-put it off.)

    So, the most important thing to remember during this time is this: These are the people who want the best for you.


    To give support in the area of parent-teenager relations, we've come up with a few tips to help you work more effectively with your parents, who, don't forget, are generally the people who will be paying all or part of your college expenses. In addition, these ideas will help you be organized in your college applications process.

    Besides, this will help you, too.


  • Tell parents who are interested, what's going on with you and your college applications. If you don't tell them, they are going to ask you.

  • Stay in control of the situation by volunteering information on your own terms.
    • Fill them in whenever you take a single step forward, like giving your recommendation forms to a teacher or requesting that your SAT scores be sent to a school. The more they know, the happier they'll be and the less they'll feel they have to ask.
  • Write up a plan and give it to your parents. Then stick to it. Parents want to be confident that you have a grand plan for this daunting task. It is in your best interest to give them what they want.

  • Write down the list of schools you're applying to, the deadline you plan to meet for each one, who you are asking for recommendations, etc., and share it with them. Keep it up-to-date, and keep it where they can look at it, (the refrigerator?)

  • Ask for help when you need it. Your parents want to help you. Let them. Ask them to read a draft of your essay. They might have some good advice for you.

  • Set up a regular time, even with hectic schedules, to chat with them about what's going on. This is especially important if you have siblings who demand their own share of attention from your parents. Perhaps even consider meeting someplace away from home where there are fewer distractions.

  • Be open and honest, and talk a lot. If for instance, your parents are pushing you to apply to a school you're not interested in, or don't want you to apply to a school that you are interested in, discuss it with them. Make your case and support evidence in defense of your position. Don't simply refuse to do what they want, listen to their viewpoint, then try to convince them to see things your way.

    The college applications and admissions process is difficult for everyone, parents included. While it may seem to you that your parents only care about whether you get into a good school, keep in mind they are dealing with some other issues as well, such as today's frightening financial considerations, and emotions about you leaving home. Sending you off to college will be tough on your parents, especially if you are the first son or daughter to leave the nest.

    Go easy on them.


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