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October 22, 2005

DIY: How to Prepare for College

Today's "How to" article courtesy of English-blog contributor Adrianne E.:

Up, Up and Away . . . To College

Having a college degree is something that employers require and it would be in everyone’s interest to get one. When in high school, if a person isn’t thinking about applying to college, he/she is viewed as not having much of a future. So, on top of getting by in school just enough to graduate, the student has to make sure that they will be eligible to attend a university. There are many steps that need to be taken in order for one to get that highly anticipated acceptance letter. Recommendation letters, personal essays, SAT scores, organizations and most importantly grades are among the requirements that need to be taken care of when thinking about applying to college. This all might sound like a big burden but it all begins to take shape well before senior year.

Ninth grade is when the student really has to begin to take their studies seriously. This is because . . .

. . . the cumulative grades that are sent to colleges and universities include this year. One must also continue to excel in their tenth and eleven grade years with the eleventh grade year being the most crucial year. Throughout high school it is good to get involved. Having decent grades is a priority but colleges like to see that students have more than just brains and the involvement in clubs and organizations in and out of school will help to prepare for the college process. They like to see a well rounded individual that has developed social and leadership skills. Getting to know teachers and authority figures in a positive way, is also something that one needs to think about. When it comes time for recommendation letters and letters of approval, the students want to have a few individuals in mind that are willing to support them.

Once making it to junior year, it’s time to get all of the attributes that I have just mentioned in order. Signing up to take the SAT is the first step. It is recommended that each student take the SAT at least once in their junior year, then once more in their senior year. After doing this, the applicant should begin to schedule appointments with their guidance counselor to discuss possible colleges or universities that may be right for them. Out of school preparation also needs to be done. It is recommended that the student sign up for online college searches which will help locate scholarships, learn about acceptance requirements, tuition for in and out of state, the size of the student body and everything else that is important in making a decision. While looking into what college is right, it may help to go and visit a couple of schools to get a closer look. One of the best ways for a student to know if a university is the one is to take a visit and see if he/she can see themselves walking on campus and dining in the cafeteria.

Hopefully, senior year has come and the student is looking forward to graduation, senior class trips and prom. It might seem like a lot to deal with but staying focused and keeping the future in mind is important. The college preparation process is not yet done. It is a good idea to have a final SAT test date scheduled and a list of colleges that are a possibility. The sooner the college business is finished, the more time there is to worry about other things. The next step is talking to your teachers about recommendation letters. Now, depending on the university, the applicant might only need one recommendation letter but for most, it is a good idea to have at least two. The student should get in contact with the teachers they have built some type of relationship with and someone that will be able to stress their positive qualities.

Every college requires each applicant to submit a personal essay about something that will help them better understand why the student wants to attend their campus or what makes them a unique individual apart from their grades. This is the next step and is the portion of the application process that is beneficial to those who might not have the most decent grades and want a way to explain themselves or point out some of their more dominant qualities. Take time and put thought into what is going to be said because this is the opportunity to explain the facts.

The next steps are the technical portions of this process. An application should be obtained from the university’s website or school guidance office. This should be in the time frame of late October to mid November so that the student receives a response in a timely matter. It is important to make sure that the application fee is clear and not to forget to submit it along with everything else or it will not be processed. It is also a good idea for the student to fill out every required portion of the application and remember to include a list of all jobs and organizations that they were apart of. Recommendation letters and personal essay must also be included. After this, the biggest part is complete but the process is still not complete. The student has a couple months after this to relax but when the New Year comes; its time to get ball once more because scholarship essays and financial aid forms need to be submitted.

For some, these next two steps are optional but highly recommended. If the student feels that they will need financial assistance in paying for school, it’s a good idea to apply for scholarships and other forms of aid. If deciding to apply for scholarships, the student needs to get all the information required and follow each provider’s instructions very carefully because they differ. He/she should also fill out the FASFA form which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are strict deadlines for every form of assistance so make sure that you take care of them in a timely manor.

Once done, it’s time to sit back and wait. The waiting portion of this process is the most tedious because the applicant is hoping that someone will accept them. This is the time to focus on other obligations such as prom and graduation. Then, once a letter is received and they accept the offer, its time to go shopping! This is also a chance to learn more about the new school because you orientations will be scheduled where lots of the unfinished touches will be taken care of.

The process for preparing for college does not happen all at once. It is a chronological process that begins to unravel years before one even wants to start thinking about college. But nevertheless, in order to eliminate becoming overwhelmed, a clear process that will get you from point to point needs to be followed. This is essentially what a process is; a series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result.

~ Adrianne E.

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Comments for Adrianne's article "Up, Up and Away . . . To College?" Please leave them below:

Posted by lhobbs at October 22, 2005 12:14 AM

Readers' Comments:


This How to do it yourself article outlines specific steps that a high school student needs to do in order to prepare his or herself for college. The author is quick to point out that this is no easy process. Lots of steps and preparation need to be completed in order for a student to even begin to imagine himself in a college campus. The article itself states that one needs to keep college in mind even during their freshman year of high school. It is very easy to do horribly right off the bat and damage a cumulative grade point average needed in order to get into a chosen college or university. However it also points out that junior year is the most crucial year in a students High school career. Colleges cannot go by senior grades because a lot of the time they accept students during the middle of their senior year. They can always of course retract their acceptance based on senior grades at a later date but the initial acceptance is based on the outcome of a student’s grades, extra curricular activities and outside of school jobs which they have been a part of leading up to their senior year. The article then goes on to mention SAT scores, scholarship letters, financial aid and other crucial steps that need to be taken into account junior and senior years of high school.

This article, in my opinion, described in full detail all of the steps which I had to go through in order to get accepted into college. There were of course a few exceptions but it is quite understandable since the steps needed to be adjusted in order for it to apply to everyone. These steps would never apply to a student that has chosen to apply to a military academy. Students that do choose to go in that direction, usually complete their application process by the beginning of their senior year if not sooner and many steps, such as getting a full body physical and receiving a senator’s nomination, apply. There were some points through out the essay that I thought did not belong there. There were various parts that mentioned things concerning graduation and prom preparations. Yes I do believe that they sometimes make senior year a bit more hectic but the two don’t exactly go hand in hand. Prom and usually graduation are events that are not mandatory. Of course going to college isn’t either but in many cases it can seem like it is. In the introductory paragraph, The author mentioned that people views other students as not having much or a future is they did not attend college, for this reason I believe that it may seem like it is a mandatory and natural thing to do after high school and I am glad that the author mentioned it even if it is not always the case. After reading this article I got a clear understanding of the necessary steps that mostly everyone takes when applying to college.

Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at April 10, 2006 01:40 PM

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