Set Yourself Up for Success in Your College Search
You may have heard famous quotes about preparation and planning like these:
“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” ― Robert H. Schuller
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
As you head into summer, here are five tips to prepare for fall and the college and scholarship application season.
1. Reflect, then identify your values.
College admission staff, parents, and others often start with these questions: "Where are you thinking of applying?” “What are you thinking of majoring in?”
But, it is not so much about where you go or what you study, but what kind of learning and social environments help you thrive? In the right environment, you’re likely to take a risks on new experiences that will lead to new opportunities, friendships, and probably a career pathway.
So, instead of asking where and what, ask why and how. How do you like to learn? What helps you engage in a project or conversations? When was a time your tried something new? What made that possible?
Then think about what you value outside the classroom. What hobbies make you happy? What experiences do you hope to have in college? What are some activities that help you de-stress? What have you been curious about trying?
Use your answers to build a set of learning and living criteria to use as you engage with colleges. Knowing your core set of values, and then developing questions to assess how well a college matches up to those values will help you learn matters most to you.
2. YouTube videos are a great way to preview and research a college, and then plan a campus visit to see for yourself.
As you start off with a long list of interesting colleges, browse their websites, YouTube channels, and social media to get a feel for what is important to the College. Use these tools to make a short list of the ones you want to visit in person.
3. Don’t miss an opportunity because you missed a deadline. Get organized now, you’ll thank yourself later.
Details and deadlines matter. Although most colleges use similar terminology like Early Action, Regular Decision, Financial Aid, Application requirements, what each college expects you to do varies from campus to campus.
Start a tracking document, like a spreadsheet, now. List the colleges you are researching row by row, and start tracking their admission deadlines and requirements. Other points to track include: application platforms, supplemental essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and points of contact by phone, email or at college fairs. Refer to your document often and add the portal links as you receive them from the colleges you have applied to.
You can use the document to note your feelings about how well each college measures up to your criteria for learning and campus life. This will save time as you continue to narrow your list.
4. Set aside regular time for your college application work each week.
Time for reflection, time to visit, time to write essays, and time to track your applications-- it all takes time. And, you're a senior! You may be taking your most rigorous classes, and you won’t want to miss all the special moments with friends and family.
Make a weekly appointment with yourself to work on your college applications. This will help you avoid last-minute stress and errors. Colleges begin receiving applications as of August 1, so there’s no need to wait until deep into October to begin your part.
5. Reach out, we love to hear from you.
Your Austin College admission staff wants you to choose a college where you will thrive. And, if we can help you do that by clarifying anything about the college process, connecting you to a current student or faculty member, or answering any of your questions, we would love to hear from you.
Reach out, introduce yourself, and let us be an advocate, a guide, and cheerleader for you through this process. firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Source: jacoblund