Applying for college is not an overcomplicated process and it is similar at most universities. Generally, you take the required examinations, write a personal statement, and then submit your application. Nowadays, a good number of universities will send you an email if you forgot to attach something, so naturally there’s no need to stress about this subject.
Do you know there are more than 5000 two and four-year colleges and universities in the United States? If not, you certainly know now, but there is no need to panic since there are more people than you think in the same spot you are now – finding the perfect college. You can definitely relax (if you there is not a deadline approaching) and began your search of finding the perfect college. Intriguing enough, you will find that there may be more than one college which can incorporate everything that you imagined – a perfect balance between study, part-time work and socializing. Beware that “best” does not always mean the most distinguished university – it can also mean a very selective university – instead of a place where you could learn, network with like minded individual and become a well-rounded person. So how should you begin your research before applying to a certain college?
First, you need to establish your goals, both in terms of academic and professional. There is not a cookie-cutter college covering all students’ needs – some schools may be perfect for you, others might not. Some schools may value safety more than others, some may offer more job opportunities throughout college, while others may provide more internship options after graduation.
- Arrange a meeting with your high school counselor, where you can highlight your accomplishments throughout high school, get unbiased opinions about your aptitudes, discuss the process of a college application from another perspective (the counselor’s), and ultimately get a professional review of your transcript
- Request as many recommendations from the professors you interacted and established a good connection
- Decide on what area of expertise you want to major in
- Make a list of universities that have your desired major(s)
- Your list should have the following categories
- SAFETY SCHOOLS – schools that you think you can easily get accepted
- MATCH SCHOOLS – the schools that you will be most comfortable to study in and have a high chance of being accepted
- MUST-TRYs – universities that might be out of reach, but you will try to apply anyway
Where can you learn more about colleges?
1. VIRTUAL TOURS
Additionally to basic information—such as the size of the school and the student body—many college websites provide interactive campus tours. Take a closer look at various areas of the campus using digital maps and other resources.
2. VISIT AN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT
Check out a posted syllabus to learn about the subjects a course delves into and to estimate a class’s workload. Read about teachers’ interests and expectations to find out what sorts of professors you’ll learn from. If you find a particular professor’s research interesting, consider sending them an email.
Well… You’re here! So, hello! You can find online many college lists, including articles about certain colleges. We recently did an article on LUT University and there are many more resources online where you can find reliable information about your future university! Internet has become an important tool in deciding for what we eat, what we buy, therefore you have no reason to skip this important step when you are choosing the best college for you.
Go there! For real, pay the college of your dreams a visit
For most of the prospective applicants, visiting a university campus should be one of the vital first step in the application process. What you’ve learned in school and seen in your life has taught you how to learn better and where you’re going to be happy. You’re going to rely on this wisdom while you consider your scholastic choices.
First, take that knowledge for a roadtrip. High school students can learn more about the life of a college student on campus by taking a “gas-tank tour” of nearby institutions. The majority of students in the United States are within a day’s drive of at least a few colleges, and those schools can be the first places to visit when you begin your college-seeking journey.
You’re going to want to reach a number of universities. Consider big and small universities, schools that specialize in topics of interest, and rural and urban campuses. Keep track of your feelings towards every campus and school theme. If you can’t personally visit the target school, check out its website: you can also find interactive tours, campus photographs, curricula listings, and testimonials from current and former graduates.
How to apply for college
When planning to apply to these universities in the fall of your senior year, make absolutely sure you have all the required relevant documents. Each school needs a copy of your secondary school records, which you may obtain from your high school record office. Below are a few more things you need to take care of when you apply.
Many universities require a college entrance test, but some schools have recently lowered this criterion. The two most popular college exams are ACT and SAT, which aim to assess what you’ve learned in high school. They still have some key differences, though identical. Nearly every college that requires test scores will let you submit results from the ACT or the SAT, thus the decision is yours – you can definitely take both tests and send them both.
Many students are taking ACT and SAT early in the second semester of their junior year, which leaves space for re-testing in May, June, or later in the summer, if necessary, before the beginning of the senior year. Some students often take exam training courses or use free online tools to prepare for ACT or SAT.
Letter of Recommendation
Grades and test scores tell a college what you’ve learned, but they’re not referring about your actual experiences. To balance this, many colleges are requiring applicants to receive letters of recommendation from their professors, which offer a more comprehensive view of the student. These letters help the college to get a deeper understanding of your character.
Many colleges want 1-2 letters of recommendation from teachers who have collaborated with you in an 11th or 12th grade academic subject. It is better to ask teachers for letters of recommendation at the completion of the 11th grade, as this helps them to gather their opinions over the summer. Make sure you pick a teacher who understands you well; if you’re just another person in the crowd, they may fail to paint a realistic image of your work as a student.
You can also request for letters of recommendation from other professionals who know you best. For instance, you might be asking for a letter from a coach; a boss or manager at your job; a priest, rabbi, or other religious leader at your church; or another adult advisor outside the school system.
Personal Statement or Motivational Letter
A personal statement IS:
- An image of yourself. Your personal essay should portray a picture of you as an individual, a student, a future scholarship winner, and (looking into the upcoming years) a former scholarship recipient.
- Even an invitation. The reader needs to be invited, directly, to get to know you. Bridge the presumed gap between strangers and welcome the reader.
- An indicator of your goals and your judgement. What you want to say in your answer will inform the committee what your goals are. What you mean, and how you say it, is certainly important.
- A story, or more accurately, a story of yours. All of us have a story to tell, but not all of us are natural wordsmiths. If you’re like other people, there’s no underlying turmoil in your life. This is where deep self-reflection, discussions with peers, colleagues, and advisors, and freedom to be imaginative, come in useful.
A personal statement is NOT
- An research paper with you as a topic. Papers you write for class are usually intended to interpret data, represent science, evaluate events, or read—all at a certain distance. We are taught to delete the “I” from our scholarly writing. Your goal in a personal statement is to close the gap between you and the reader. You have to participate on a new, more intimate level than you have been taught in college. A presentation in narrative style.
- A report that reads as a list of successes and objectives shows the reader little that they could not have gleaned from the rest of the application. It says nothing about the nominee, and it’s a lost opportunity.
- A page in your journal. Although you can well rely on your personal diary’s memories or insights, your letter can not be read as a diary. Share what’s important, and use these insights to provide a meaningful framework for your story. Make sure to just add what you’re comfortable sharing, as sometimes, you could be asked about parts of your personal statement in the interview with the admission committee.
- Perhaps fundamentally, a personal statement is genuine. Don’t make the mistake of trying to predict what the committee is asking for, and don’t write down what you believe they want to know. They want to know YOU, not a persona flawlessly displayed on paper.
How many colleges should I apply to?
In general, the majority of students apply to 5-12 schools. This is a fair number to shoot for, assuming that the applications you send represent a wide range of schools. Usually, you’ll want to apply to 2-3 safety schools, 2-4 aim schools, and 1-5 reach schools.
Is it okay to use the same personal statement for multiple schools?
Students often use the same materials for various applications, as applicants can submit transcripts and test scores with little effort to all prospective colleges. However, some colleges have specific criteria that candidates must discuss personally, and it is important to always double-check any specific essay questions to make sure that your essay addresses the prompt.
Should I apply to colleges if my admission-test scores or grades are below their ranges?
Absolutely! . Admission scores and grades shown by colleges on their websites are averages or ranges—not cuts. There are students in every college who scored lower (and higher) than the figures shown.
Take into consideration that colleges are weighing a lot of things to get a more full picture of you. For instance, they look at the types of classes you take, your hobbies, your letters of recommendation, your essay and your overall character. Colleges are searching for all sorts of students of various talents, skills and experiences. Admission test scores and grades are just two aspects of the whole picture.
College admission myths
Exam Scores Can Affect Your Chances of Getting In
As we said before, your test scores are only one part of the bigger picture. If your grades are not that high, you can make up in other aspects, such as extracurricular activities. Do not take this as advice for not studying for your tests, but if you unfortunately had a bad day when taking your SAT, it is not a solid reason to become more stressed about your application.
GPA is NOT a perfect way of showcasing your knowledge
Grade inflation is REAL! Grade inflation is often discussed in relation to education in the United States and GCSEs and A levels in England and Wales. It is also a concern in many other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, South Korea and India. You can read more about grade inflation here on this beautiful article written by Simon Baker, where he goes more in-depth on this matter, and here on this article written by Andrew Gunn and Priya Kapade, where they express their perspectives on the situation.
Therefore, worry less about your grades and focus more on other activities – you will thank yourself later anyway for involving in more social, economic and voluntary activities. After all, grades are only a measurement in the academic system – experience is what defines us in a real-world situation, in the workplace, and in our daily lives. Again, this is not a reason to skip classes or engage in other activities detrimental to your welfare as a student, but you should definitely try to focus more on self-development and building a solid network of future successful people.
There are many factors when you decide to apply for college and you should take into consideration a variety of factors, but most importantly you have to find the perfect (for you) balance. Are you a student? Do you want to apply to college? What are your thoughts on the process of application to universities?