A client called me recently to help her daughter write the college essays. She wanted her daughter to start in the summer. Summer does seems like a great time to spend working on your essays. You are finally finished with school and activities are winding down. Unfortunately, the Common Application doesn’t come out until August. Why? Schools are still filling their ranks – accepting people off wait lists and getting organized for the next college application season. What to do? I advise students to do the following to get ready for the Fall Rush.
- Research the colleges and universities you want to go to: This means looking at their catalogue to find programs and majors that might appeal to you based on your interests in high school. In all likelihood, you will be asked to write an essay on this.
- Look at this year’s essay questions: Although these question might change for the fall, you will get an idea about what types of essays are required and maybe the kind of candidates they are looking for. For example, Tufts University’s supplement essay, “Describe your nerdy side”, reveals that this school wants creative students.
- Talk to friends/relatives who have gone to your desired schools: Getting as much information as possible about the colleges and universities you apply to will give you a good idea about professors, academics, and what life is like there.
- Resist the temptation to visit a college: You need to save your college tours until the fall. It’s important to see the school in “full swing” to really know if you want to apply.
Honesty is the best policy on your college application. Don’t overstate grades, lie about participation in activities, or buy an essay on the Internet.
Not Explaining Issues
If you have poor grades, time missed from school, a change in schools, etc., explain these briefly on the application – and be honest about it. Most colleges have an place on the application where you can talk about what happened. Don’t use the personal statement or supplement essay to discuss this, since it should contain only positive information.
Don’t Press “Send” Until the Application Is Thoroughly Checked
Some essays may be “reused” to apply to several colleges. However, make sure that you change the details and information. Ask someone to check your essay for these mistakes.
It’s All In the Details
Each application is different and unique, so make sure that you follow each school’s instructions exactly. Be especially careful about grammar and spelling mistakes. A college admissions officer will find the smallest error and know you didn’t take the time to check and re-check your application.
Did you ever consider taking a year off after school? A gap year? This could be an opportunity to think about what you want to do in life – a chance to grow and become self-confident. You could also develop life skills needed for college or work. Research has shown that students who take a year off after high school are more likely to graduate from college in four years. Most colleges will be likely to defer a student’s admission and hold a place for him in following year’s class.
Pell Grants are federal financial aid for low-income students. Here’s what you should know about the program:
- Pell Grants are targeted: In the 2010-11 academic year, approximately 74% of the nearly 9 million Pell Grant recipients had family incomes of $30,000 or less. Only 1.9% of recipients came from families with incomes exceeding $60,000 who typically have multiple children in college.
- The program can’t keep up with the cost of college: Since 2008, annual spending on the Pell Grant program has more than doubled, to nearly $40 billion, and with the Obama administration and Congress, the maximum grant has jumped from $4,731 to $5,550 (and is scheduled to rise again to $5,635 in fiscal year 2013). Despite these increases, the maximum Pell Grant is expected to cover less than one-third of the average cost of attendance at public four-year colleges next year.
- Increasingly, colleges are not doing their part: The country’s public and private non-profit four-year colleges are now spending a greater share of their institutional aid dollars on trying to attract the students they desire than on meeting the financial need of the low-and moderate-income students they enroll. While many schools use institutional aid to attract the best students in order to raise their U.S. News & World Report rankings, others are using these funds to attract wealthy students to maximize their revenue.
- Pell Grant recipients take on more debt than other students: Education Department data shows that Pell Grant recipients are “more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans (63% vs. 30%),” Amont those Pell Grant recipients who graduate from four-year colleges, nearly 9 out of 10 have student loans, with an average debt of $3,500 more than their higher income peers.
Here’s some important information for students who want to be recruited for college sports.
Spring break college visits: Meet with college coaches and players on the team, look at the facilities, and register for the Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.
Winter/Spring: Send out cover letters and resumes with information about your summer campes, tournaments, and leagues. Talk with your coach, club coach, and college advisor about the athletic match. Prepare a video and be ready to sent it to coaches who request it. Follow up with an email or phone call.
Summer college visits: Meet with college coaches, check ou the facilities, and get a tour of the school.
Don’t despair – there are still openings at colleges. Take a look at this list of possibilities and other information from the Universal Application: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/1044429/ca0643bcae/TEST/TEST/