Move Forward In Your College Process

securedownload Deb Deborah Roth lives on Long Island and is a School Counselor in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.  She has a BA in Psychology and Education; an MS in Reading Education and Learning Disabilities; and an MS in School Counseling. (Molloy College, Adelphi University and Hofstra University, respectively)   She has been an educator for 36 years; a member of Nassau Counselors’ Association for 22 years, 11 of those years as part of the Executive Board.  She has three grown children who have navigated the process.

Welcome, Class of 2014! Hello, members of the Class of 2014!  Hope you have enjoyed a productive summer break!  The time has come for you to move forward in your college admissions process.  Can you believe it?  The moment you have dreamt about is finally here!  Please keep this whole process in perspective!  I believe that everyone winds up where they are supposed to be.  Sometimes, it does not feel that way while it is happening, but you must have faith in yourself and in the process.  All of your hard work is about to come to fruition! During the summer, many of you probably worked very hard to finalize your college application tasks.  Some of you may have visited college campuses in an effort to finalize your college list.  Still, others may have been working on college essays, activities résumés and the like.  There are even some who will be taking standardized tests – yet again — in an effort to improve your scores.  And, there undoubtedly are those few who are already finished with their applications and are waiting for transcripts to be ready!  To that end, I will recap where you ought to be at this juncture. The following items are of interest to you:

  1. Review your schedule for the coming year.  Do you have everything you need to graduate? This may seem trite – better to be safe than sorry.  Do you have the correct courses?  Are they the correct level of course (AP, Honors, Regents)?  If you visited colleges and have now realized that you should have a particular course that you do not have, now is the time to change it!
  2.  List of colleges where you will apply should be complete at this time.
  3. College applications are now online.  Start to complete the applications.  If you are using the Common Application, create an account and start filling it in.  (There is a new version of the Common Application CA4 – familiarize yourself with it.)  If your high school uses Naviance, update your account in whatever ways you need to at this time.  Remember to hit the “Save” button!
  4. Are you taking/retaking any standardized tests?  Register for them now!  SAT is given in October, November and December.  ACT is given in September (in some places), October and December.  Register now!
  5. Once your college list is finalized, go to the College Board website for SAT score reports and/or the ACT website for the ACT score reports to order your official score report to be sent to the colleges to which you are applying.  This is the responsibility of the student!  Even if your high school puts your scores on your official transcript, you must supply the colleges with an official score report.
  6. Work on your college essay!  The Common Application requires an essay as part of the application.  Many other applications, public state universities included, require an essay. (some do not)  Let your voice be heard!  Your essay is like a private, personal interview.  It is your opportunity to let the reader know who you are in a way not discussed on that application.  Additionally, many colleges require supplemental essays.  Check your application to see if you need to write additional essays or short paragraphs to answer questions.  PLEASE proofread everything carefully!  There are no excuses for errors.  You have one chance to make a first impression.
  7. Regarding the common application essay:  DO NOT MAKE MENTION OF ANY PARTICULAR COLLEGE BY NAME as Common App advises you not to do so. The essay you put in your Common Application will go to all the colleges listed in your “My Colleges” section. You will have the opportunity to tailor your essay for an individual school in the writing supplement.
  8. Make an appointment to meet with your school counselor.   Let him/her know where you are in the process and when you plan to apply.  Early Decision and Early Action applications have earlier due dates than other application due dates.  Communication is key!  You both need to be on the same page.  Your counselor has many students in his/her caseload; make your needs known.
  9. Contact your recommenders.  Remind them as to when you will be sending in your applications.  If you will be an early applicant, your recommenders need to know that.  It will be important to submit their letters in a timely fashion.  If your school uses Naviance, you will be able to see when your recommender has uploaded the letter of recommendation.  If your recommender is outside of the school system, you must provide that person with the names and addresses of the colleges to which you are applying so that they may mail their letters in order that they will be received on or before the due date.  Remember to thank your recommenders with a lovely, hand-written thank you note once the work is done.  They also like to hear about the decisions when they come in.  Keep them in the loop; you obviously have a nice relationship with them or you would not have asked that they write a letter for you!
  10. Just a suggestion:  stay away from snarky, prank-like stunts to gain an admission representative’s attention.  There have been many attempts at humor to gain recognition; however, take my word for it – they don’t think it’s funny!  The time spent reading applications and making decisions on your future warrants the utmost respect.

So, if for some reason you have made little progress in terms of your college applications, do not panic.  There is time.   There are many admissions policies.  In addition to Early Decision and Early Action, there are other policies of admission:  Early Decision 2, Regular Decision and Rolling Admissions to name a few! The most important aspect of this quest for the perfect college is to find the perfect fit!  Let’s be realistic and a little pragmatic; in all probability, you will get into college.  The question is, “Will you get into the college of your dreams?”  The answer to that is not always so easy.  Sometimes students do not get into the college of their dreams, but that does not mean they did not wind up where they were supposed to be!  Good Luck!  May all your dreams become realities!

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