So you've picked out three to five colleges that you're interested in (as per your guidance counselor's request), but you have no clue what to do now. Here is my crash course on all things college information and applications.
1. Create a free college email for "information" If you took an AP, SAT, ACT, or attended a college fair and gave out your email then you know what it's like to be inundated with emails from colleges that aren't even remotely in line with your interests. For example, If I were to make a college email it would be something like email@example.com however, I would use this email only to receive information, not when I actually go to apply to various colleges. 2. Apply early Do not wait till the last day of the application window. If the colleges you are applying to offer early action then apply using that option. Early action is non-binding unlike early decision but allows you to be able to get the colleges' decisions about your admission (and scholarships/financial aid) sooner. Also, this allows you to get your college applications out of the way sooner, so you can focus on applying to local scholarships and keeping your grades up. Even if some of your colleges don't offer early action, apply as early as possible so that you're not writing your admissions essays the night before they're due (please do not do this it is the most important essay that you have written in your 18 years on earth). 3. Get as much information as possible from each college Now more than ever people are committing to colleges without ever visiting them (I've never been to my college campus). However, that doesn't mean you have to be completely in the dark about the colleges you are considering. Now many colleges have Livestream virtual tours that you can attend. There are also usually information sessions for different programs. If you still have more questions then most colleges offer individual Q & A sessions with an admissions counselor who can help get you all the answers you need. 4. Fill up your resume
If you're a junior this year or even a senior, it's never too late to add on some extra activities. Some volunteer work is always good and doesn't have to have the reoccurring time commitment that other extracurriculars might require. Having even a little bit of volunteer work will look good to colleges since it shows you are involved in your community. Another benefit of volunteer work is that it gives you more people to use as references for letters of recommendation. Many local scholarships ask for at least one letter from a community leader (not a teacher). 5. Don't get your heart set on a school
While it's good to have reach schools, you should try not to get too locked in on one college. Even if you get accepted to that school, if you will need scholarships and financial aid to attend that school. (rework this sentence as I’m not sure what you mean here) If you need a lot of money try to apply for as many local and national scholarships as you can. Just be mindful that applying does not guarantee that you will be awarded. I applied to over 100 local and national scholarships and I only received one. I'm not trying to discourage you from applying for these, however, I'm just trying to tell you it's a little bit of a number's game. The more you apply for, the higher your chance of receiving money is. If you cannot afford your dream school after aid that's ok! You can always go to another school that is on the roster that has offered you more financial help. Or you can attend community college for two years and knock out your general credits and then transfer to the college you want. This is a great option if you have a particular school you want to go to but are not looking to take out loans, or take out as little as necessary.
Hopefully, these 5 tips were helpful as you begin the college admission process if you are a senior or helps to give you an idea of how you should be preparing for college admissions if you are a junior. If you need more resources check out the CONECT Student page where you can find a list of volunteer organizations, interview advice, resume tips, and more Study Break blogs. If you need anything else please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure you're subscribed so you get a notification every time we post a blog!