Speaking from experience, I understand how stressful the college application process can be. These are just four things that I wish someone shared with me when I was sweating over completing college apps before the deadlines.
1. Your Transcript: A Little Piece of Paper That Reads Like a Book
Just about every school will request an official transcript from your high school when you apply. What is in a transcript that makes it so important? Yes, it has your grades, GPA and in some cases your ACT score; but a transcript is more than that. It reveals if you have challenged yourself throughout your high school career. Colleges look on your transcript for AP/Honors/Dual-Enrollment – courses that show a challenging curriculum. Make sure you prove to colleges that you are up for the challenges they have to offer by taking advanced courses if they are available (don’t worry, if your school does not offer any of the options listed above, chances are you will not be faulted!).
Schools not only focus on the overall GPA, they look to see if your GPA increased year-to-year throughout high school (meaning most schools are pretty forgiving of a sub-par freshman year performance). An upward trend shows academic growth and maturity, attributes that are needed throughout your postsecondary experience!
I remember when I wrote my college app essays, I thought that they were just there to discourage people from applying to a billion schools (good thinking right? LOL). I discovered, to my surprise, that schools do indeed read your essays, not once but in some cases three times! Your essays bring a 3-D view to your application and allow the school to learn more about you. They can convey how you process ideas and display your creativity. Use this opportunity to take a chance and put yourself out in the open! But please do not make the mistake of offending people in your essay or putting in items that you think will appease the school.
3. Fee Waivers
Let’s be honest, applying to postsecondary institutions can cost a pretty penny. Applying to 10 schools at the cost of $30 per application would cost $300, and I know that I didn’t have that type of money lying around when I was in high school! When applying to different schools, take note whether it’s free if you apply online or bring in your application when an admission representative visits your high school. Another thing to consider are fee waivers. If your parents make below a certain amount or you are a recipient of free and reduced lunch, you qualify for a fee waiver. Check out this link and talk to your guidance counselor for more info!
4. Clicking Submit Doesn’t Mean You’re Finished
This is probably the most important thing to remember after all of the applications are complete and you feel like you have some weight lifted off your shoulders. Even though you think you’re finished with the entire college app process, you should know that the process is continuous and lasts throughout the entire year. Some schools may ask to see your 7th semester transcripts or ask you to retake the ACT. And did you know that even when you are accepted into the institution of your choice, it’s contingent on the successful completion of your senior year? That means don’t slack off because the school has the choice to deny your acceptance after they see your final transcript! What that boils down to is that you need to stay focused!
Is there anything else you wish you knew about the college app process? Leave me a comment!