CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter
It’s that time of the year: the school year is in full swing, and most seniors have realized that it will be a busy fall. Not only are high school students dealing with the normal school year stress, but also the stress that comes with the college application process. It’s staring you in the face, and the days of childhood are over. You must now decide where you will spend the next four or more years of your life. So, relax. Take a breath and sit back while I walk you through the minefield that is the college application process.
For starters, you have to decide where you want to apply. If you are still unsure, I like bigfuture, a website sponsored by College Board. You can go through and set preferences for things you’re looking for in a college, and it will compile a personalized list. Next, find out how you can apply. Many colleges are available on the Common App or the Coalition Application, but others will have individual applications that can only be found on their respective websites. Then, you must fill out the application. It is best to have a copy of your transcript, SAT or ACT scores, Social Security number, counselor’s contact information, list of accolades and student resume at hand while filling them out, as this is the basic information most applications will require.
Additionally, applications will ask for a list of your extracurricular activities but don’t panic if you haven’t started your own business or founded a country. List the activities that are the most important and have had the most impact on your life. Preferably, it is best to include activities only from your high school years. When you describe the activities, make sure to give enough detail, so the admissions officers can have insight into the activity, especially if it is something new or different. Congrats! You have made it through a good portion of the application process, but there is still much more to do. It is a marathon, not a sprint, after all.
Another difficult portion of the application is the recommendations section. Many schools will ask for counselor and/or teacher recommendations. For teacher recommendations, the school will most likely specify that it must be a core teacher from your junior or senior year. If this is the case, think of one or two teachers (dependent on the college’s requirements) whose class you enjoyed and who you think will be able to accurately portray your character. When asking for a teacher recommendation, be polite and explain why you think they would write you the best recommendation. This is important: DO NOT add them as a recommender before asking them. It is common courtesy. Most recommendation forms are electronic, so you will be listing your teacher’s professional email. Then, they will be invited to write a recommendation for you. It is always a good idea to check in with them to see if they have received the email notification. Additionally, if your deadline is quickly approaching, a reminder can help. Most teachers are busy but want to help you achieve your next step. This is not to say that you should wait until the day of your deadline to ask. It is best to give teachers ample time to write a quality recommendation.
Moreover, some schools will require a recommendation from your counselor. For this recommendation, follow the procedure that your school sets. As a student at Chattahoochee High School, all seniors seeking a counselor recommendation for a college or scholarship must fill out a senior profile (a student resume) and a recommendation request form. These materials must be turned in together, and counselors are to be given at least ten school days to fulfill the request.Thus, be mindful of any deadlines the counseling office establishes. You have made it through one of the hardest parts. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The next part of most applications is sending a copy of your transcript. Again, this is on a college by college basis, so check with the institution. Most colleges require you to send it electronically, which can be done via Parchment. It is a free service that will electronically send your transcript to the colleges you select. Other colleges will require a paper copy, and this can usually be found in the counselor’s office. Additionally, check with your counselor. He/she may already plan to send it for you. Another piece of information that must be sent is your SAT or ACT scores, and these must come directly from the testing institution, either College Board or ACT. The scores are about $12 a piece to send if you did not select the colleges before you took the exam. Colleges provide their testing codes on their websites, so you can be sure that your score ends up in the right place. Additionally, you can choose to send your AP scores now, which are $15 if you did not specify to have them sent when you initially took the exam in May. Lastly, there will most likely be an application fee upwards of $50. Once you pay this, you are free to click the submit button. You did it! You hit submit and bore your heart and soul to the admissions office of your chosen colleges. Now what?
Now, you must anxiously await the results. Hopefully, you are accepted everywhere you apply, but if not, no fear. Things will fall as they may. While you wait, it is a good idea to search for scholarships, whether they are sponsored by a foundation or the school to which you applied. Websites like Chegg help filter the thousands of scholarships available to the ones that are just right for you. Additionally, it helps to stay organized. Find a way that works, so you are able to stay on top of all your deadlines, whether it is housing deposits, honors college or scholarships. Keep calm and apply on, and may the odds be ever in your favor.