A Tour of the College Admissions Process
College Selection Process
One of the first and most important steps you must take in the college admissions process is to select your schools. Have you decided what you want to do? Whether it may be a Doctor or to get your bachelor of science in nursing, you will have to be careful in how you pick your school. And yes, college selection is a process within itself. Although many students have at least one college or university they would like to aim for, it is important to compile a list of 6 to 10 colleges to apply to prior to your senior year. You want to start thinking about which schools you may want to apply for your junior year. This way, you will get a chance to research each school, visit each school, and make changes to your list of schools.
A good place to start when thinking about which schools you may potentially apply for is a college fair. Free and open to everyone, a college fair is an event where representatives from multiple colleges gather at one location to speak with prospective students about their school. College fairs are great because they give you a chance to interact with admissions officers and learn about the college admission and financial aid processes, course offerings, and campus life of a wide range of schools. This gives you a chance to get an idea of what kind of schools are out there (i.e. liberal arts, religious, public, private, etc.) and perhaps figure out which schools may be right for you.
SAT, ACT, and SAT II
The reason why it’s so important to compile a list of the different schools you would like to apply to first is because different schools may have different admission requirements. Although it is standard for most colleges and universities require either the SAT or the ACT for admission, some schools may also require you take two SAT II subject tests. Knowing which schools you want to apply for allows you to plan ahead.
Most schools consider the SAT and the ACT interchangeable. Do some research on your schools and plan accordingly. Because many colleges and universities will accept the best score out of three tries for both the SAT and the ACT (that’s six tries total), it is important to start your test taking process junior year. Beginning the test taking process early junior year will allow you to retake anything if necessary and make the application process your senior year less hectic. The last thing you want to do during applications fall semester senior year is squeeze all your tests in before the deadline.
Like with testing, it is important to research your schools’ specific admission requirements regarding the actual application. While many private schools use a common application, the UC system has its own application. Researching the different application processes of the different schools on your list will give you an idea of how many personal statements and supplemental essays you are looking at writing, how many letters of recommendations you will need, how many transcripts you need to request, which test scores to send, and what the various deadlines are.
- Personal Statement and Supplemental Essay: The summer between your junior and senior year is a good time to start drafting your personal statements. Starting in the summer will give you time to revise them to your liking. Getting the writing for your personal statements and your supplemental essays started will also help clear up your time in the fall for the frenzy of paperwork you will be dealing with.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most public schools do not require letters of recommendation. Private schools, on the other hand, generally require two letters of recommendation from a teacher and/or a counselor. You want to ask your desired recommenders to write your letters of recommendation as soon as possible. Remember that there are other students also requesting recommendations. When you get two recommenders to agree to write your letters of recommendation, it is important to provide them with all the materials they will need to write you your letters (i.e required forms, pre-addressed envelopes, stamps, etc.)
- Transcript Request: Deadlines for transcripts vary from school to school. You may want to go through the list of schools you are applying to and write down the transcript deadlines early in the fall so you have an idea of when each school’s deadline for the transcript is. Ask your counselor where you can get make your transcript requests and whether your school sends transcripts electronically or by mail. It may be a good idea to make your transcript request at least a week before the deadline if your school sends transcripts by mail.
Tags: ACT, apply for college, choose college, college admissions, college applications, college entrance exams, college fairs, college financial aid, college selection, Financial Aid, how to apply for college, SAT, SAT II, select college, test preps, university application