During your Senior year you will submit applications to perhaps 6-8 universities. Most private colleges use the Common Application, where you complete one application and send it to many schools at once. Most state universities use their own applications, which you complete on their website. For all of these applications you can save your work and log out, and submit the application another day. Most students work on the applications for several months before submitting. The application is your *one* chance to convince the admissions committee that you belong at their school. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done for four years, if your application doesn’t show it, or if your application has errors, your admissions chances are decreased. Proofread your apps carefully and ask at least one other person to look over them as well. Put your best foot forward!
During the summer before your Senior year you should write as many of your admissions essays as you can. The Common Application goes live on August 1st, so you should have that fully completed before school starts. Some colleges will start to post their new applications during July and August; nearly all colleges will have their new applications live during September. Beware: before you begin any application, always check the dates very carefully to be sure you are not working on last year’s application, or you will lose all of your work when the new app goes live.
This section helps you choose which colleges to apply to. Start by searching for colleges to create and save a college list. Once you have a list, narrow it down using the charts on each page. Save your list! Research the colleges and take notes. Save your notes because you will use them to write why you want to go to each college in your applications.
Students typically begin a college search during the summer before Junior year. Aim to have your list finalized by the end of Junior year so that you can begin contacting your target colleges and working on applications in the summer before your Senior year.
Your Transcript is your high school’s official document of all your semester grades, freshman through senior year. Your high school sends this to all of your colleges as proof of your grades and GPA. Transcripts can have errors, so verify yours regularly.
Your freshman year grades are the most powerful grades for “setting” your GPA. As you add more grades, their power goes down (law of averages), so get the best grades you can early on in high school because pulling up a GPA is very unlikely.
These offices are a great help for diverse students. A Diversity office has information about all of the programs available on campus for diverse students and will answer any questions you have about college life.
Open House and Fly-in Programs are special weekends reserved for selected diverse high school students to visit a college. Generally the college will help pay for the expenses of the trip. The programs vary college to college and will sometimes target a specific cohort of diverse students.
First Year Transition Programs are formal programs to help diverse students adapt to college life. They can include first year students meetings to share experiences, matching faculty with college students, classes for freshman about college (how to use the library, study-skills, the writing center, etc.), living communities and initiatives designed to make students feel included once they have enrolled at your college.
Some colleges have groups or clubs that you can join where you can meet other diverse students. These groups can be really helpful to share experiences you’re having and get advice from your peers.
Some schools have programs that pair college student mentors with diverse high school students. If you’re still in high-school you should check to see if your school offers such a program. If you’re getting ready to head to college think about joining this group as a mentor!
Many colleges work to foster campus atmospheres that are very supportive of LGBT students, through initiatives such as student housing, counseling services, recruiting efforts, campus safety measures, and academic programming. As more and more US colleges do a great job of focusing on this issue, there are a few schools that are already well known for their efforts and success.
Provides students with an early introduction to the college they will be attending. It is an alternative admissions program for first-gen college students, and students who are disadvantaged by economic or educational circumstances. This high school to college bridge program is designed to help students adjust to college life and build a foundation for academic success. The costs for most programs can be covered by scholarships. Often these programs involve some community service where diverse students are giving back to the community, OR classes which help students prepare for the term (such as study skills, time management, college level writing lab, even a short class on locations and how to access all of the learning resources on campus.) In addition to this students get a head start on meeting classmates and becoming familiar with their surroundings.
These are programs that typically provide gifted kids with enriched programs and bring LIFG (low income, first generation) kids up to grade level. Programs often focus on encouraging girls to study STEM. Some are on college campuses and kids take classes. Many of these programs are “field of study” specific. Others are like UW’s Dream Project where the college goes into the high schools to support the students.
You write one main essay of 500-650 words to apply to college, and you send this essay to most of your colleges. You can send your resume to any colleges who allow it. Many colleges require that you write about 150-200 words on your most meaningful extra curricular activity, and many schools ask why you chose to apply to their school, so it is a good idea to have this “Why School X” piece ready as well. You can keep track of all essays you need to write here on CollegeMapper. Recycle wherever you can, but always proofread to change the names!
Start writing these essays during the second semester of Junior year, lightly. Hit it hard in the summer before Senior year and try to have as many of them as possible finalized before Senior year starts. Plan to edit each piece 5-10 times. Get outside editing help; no one can be their own editor!
|Private scholarships are the biggest source of financial aid||
|Saving for college will hurt my financial aid package||
|We make too much to qualify||
|Expensive schools cost more; state schools are cheaper||
|Only wealthy students can afford to go to college||
Go to the AidCalc EFC Calculator which will help you calculate what colleges will expect your family to contribute toward your education each year.
Your High School Resume is a list of your activities. You will send this to each of your colleges with your application.
Start your resume during freshman year. It is difficult to remember everything you have done, so update it often. List everything; cut later. Start community service in 9th grade. Aim to have activities on your resume that you do for 3 or 4 years during high school – 4 years is just fantastic!
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For college applications at most schools, you need to submit scores for the ACT or the SAT. No school requires both. All schools accept either one. Schools do not prefer one test over another. Students typically take both tests once, their favorite (haha) test a second time, and then submit their best score. Some schools require no test scores at all, so check out: fairtest.org. Some of the most competitive schools also require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests.
Prep for tests starting in the summer before Junior year. Begin testing in November, December or January of your Junior year. Order the optional answers report so that you can see your weak spots. Take the ACT and SAT each once (most likely), then choose your stronger test and take that test a second time to try to improve your first score. Students typically send their second score. You DO need to prep on your weak spots in between tests or your score won’t go up. “Your score won’t go up because you show up!”
Everyone is prepping for the ACT or SAT, and so should you. You don’t want to send in raw scores against everyone’s prepped scores. You have several options for test prep:
Transferring schools is becoming an increasingly popular trend among college-goers. Many students will begin at 2-year community colleges and then transfer to 4-year colleges after receiving their Associate’s degree. Other students are unhappy at the 4-year school they chose, which ideally shouldn’t happen if the student did a good job of researching colleges, but sometimes does. In the event that you realize your current school is not the right fit for your academic goals, then transferring is the best option!
You can transfer any time after first semester of freshman year in college. Most 4-year to 4-year transfer students apply during January of freshman year in college and then start at their new school in September of sophomore year. Most 2-year to 4-year transfers will apply in the spring of their second year. You need to check the credit requirements at your target transfer colleges, because they vary from school to school.