Applying for college is an exciting and nerve-racking experience. Most juniors and seniors spend months working on perfecting their applications. Although I warn students not to let perfect get in the way of pretty good. For some, these applications might determine what the next four to ten years of their lives look like.
For me, applying for college provided me an opportunity to better my life. I grew up in a low-income household and my brother and I were the first generation in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. I was immensely proud of this and often reflect on my application process with tremendous gratitude. Had I not utilized some of the resources available to me in high school, my life might have looked a lot different.
If you are a junior or senior getting ready to apply for college, remember to take advantage of your high school resources and get to know the departments available at your prospective school.
Speak with the Registrar’s Office
Every university and college in the United States will have a Registrar’s Office. The registrar can help you plan your application and learn about important deadlines. The registrar also works closely with the Financial Aid Department. Together, these departments help students apply for their intended program and pay for their schooling.
Often, registrar employees will be well versed in application requirements and can offer guidance. Prospective students should absolutely build their network in the Registrar and Financial Aid Departments. These departments are extremely knowledgeable and offer really sound advice.
Seek Support for your Essay
Many students applying for college will need to complete an entrance essay. This essay details why they want to go to college and what they have planned for their education and career. For some students, the essay is the most difficult aspect of applying. Whether they lack confidence in their writing or speak English as a second language, some students really struggle with this portion of the application.
If you find the essay portion challenging, seek help at your local university’s writing center. Sometimes the local library will even offer writing workshops for free to library members. If your high school has a writing club, try reaching out to them to get feedback on your essay. Writing is a collaborative process and including as many people in the process helps improve the end product.
Meet with your Guidance Counselor
Another resource that often goes underutilized is the high school guidance counselor. These staff members are trained in the art of applying for college. They are well versed in financial aid procedures, scholarship opportunities, and university searches. If you haven’t selected your prospective schools, guidance counselors can help narrow down the list. If you know what school you want to go to, but don’t know how to apply, work with your guidance counselor to determine the school requirements.
Not only are these individuals terrific resources for your applications, they often help students ease the stress and tension that comes along with it. Like your teachers, guidance counselors are there to help you succeed. Call your high school’s front office and schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor. You won’t regret it!