The College Process

by Phoebe F.

The college process can be stressful for anyone, especially for students who have to figure out a lot of it on their own. From finding the right schools to completing the applications, it’s a lot to handle and keep track of. 

The responsibility is on the student, more so than you thought it would be. 

With that said, I recommend starting earlier than you might think you need to. It’s better to be done early, than be crammed at the finish line. Take advantage of the summer before senior year to get a lot done because most people have less to do during the summer. Once school starts, life gets really busy. 

There are lots of different components to the college application process, such as getting teacher recommendations, finding scholarships, and completing applications. Starting early allows you some wiggle room in case a piece of the process takes longer than expected. As well, pieces may arise that you were not originally aware of. Or, you may have questions that take awhile to get the answers for. 

Don’t rely on the guidance department for help. Don’t wait for them to send you information. Be ready to have to ask all the questions. You have to be an advocate for yourself. 

Advocacy is huge. No one is going to know you have questions or concerns, unless you speak up. People are there to help you understand and make the process easier. 

Schedule appointments with your guidance counselor ahead of time. Their schedules get full and it makes it harder to make appointments. Even if the appointment is just to check in, it can be very useful. It’s a lot easier to have a conversation in person than over email. It’s a lot less back and forth. 

There may be times when you send an email to either a guidance counselor, a college admission counselor, or someone else, and don’t hear back for a few days. Be ready to send a follow up email. The first email you sent may have gotten lost in their inbox.  Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the admissions office, especially if you have a pressing and time sensitive question. Sometimes this is the best approach to get the most helpful and direct information. 

If an answer you receive doesn’t fully answer the initial question, send another email and ask another question to help reach the answer that will help you. 

Make sure to do your research and homework. Go online and find all the information you can about a school. If possible, it is always a good idea to visit the school in person and get a feel for it. Another good way to gain information is to speak to people who went to that school, whether it’s someone you know, or by scheduling an appointment with an alum from the school. This way you can hear their experiences, find out what they liked about attending, and gain more information. You want to find the right school for you that will help you succeed in life. And the only way to do that is by learning everything you can about the school. 

There is no one size fits all. Everyone is different. So, not every school will be right for every person. And the process will go differently for everyone, as well. 

Everyone has different circumstances going on in their lives when applying to colleges, which can make it difficult to work on applications and find the time.

Set aside a dedicated amount of time for the college process. Try setting aside four or five hours a week to work on this. That could be two hours on the weekend and then two or three hours spread out over the course of the week. Adjust it to make it work with your schedule. It’s really easy to push this aside and think that you’ll just do it later.

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