Trying to decide what college you’re going to? Overwhelmed by the application process? Stressed out from the amount mail you’re getting from prospective colleges? We spoke to one of our traditional undergraduate admissions counselors to give you the inside scoop on what colleges are looking for in students – and how you can make the application process easier on yourself.
1. Do Your Homework
Your best resource for finding the right school for you is right at your fingertips – literally! There are plenty of online college search engines that you can access right from your smartphone. Use these to generate a list of colleges that fit your criteria.
2. Visit, Visit, Visit!
Many students say that they knew whether or not they would attend a school within the first five minutes of being on campus. But, aesthetics aside, it’s important to meet professors, ask current students questions, try the cafeteria food, check out the dorms and get an overall feel for campus life.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Sticker Price
If money is deterring you from applying to a certain school, don’t let it stand in the way. You never know what scholarships or grants you may be eligible for that could move your dream school into your price range!
4. Just Apply
Applying is not a commitment. It’s better to apply and change your mind later than to never have applied at all.
5. Resist Senioritis
As much as you might be tempted to check out of your senior year – don’t do it! If you’re able to maintain your GPA until the end of school, you might have a higher chance at qualifying for academic merit awards.
6. Start Saving Early
If you work over the summer or part-time during the school year, start putting some of those funds aside to put towards your first semester tuition. The more you save and can pay for your school bill up front, the less you’ll need in loans to cover the cost.
7. Take the SAT, ACT, or CLT Tests ASAP
The earlier you take your SAT, ACT, or CLT, the more time you’ll have to retake both tests if you want to increase your score. Remember that it takes College Board and ACT roughly one month after your test date to release your scores, so the longer you wait, the longer it will take colleges to receive your results.
8. Don’t Feel Like You Need To Have It All Figured Out
Don’t believe the rumors – you don’t have to declare a major in order to start college. Beginning your college career undecided can actually work in your favor! Some statistics say that 50 to 70 percent of college students will change their major three times before they graduate. All that to say – you don’t need to have the rest of your life figured out before you start college! It’s okay (and, quite honestly, perfectly normal) not to know immediately.
9. Be Honest With Your Admissions Counselors
When you get calls from the colleges where you’ve applied, don’t be afraid to let them know where you’re at in the whole “applying to college” process. Colleges want to know if you’re not planning to attend their institution just as much as they want to know if you are planning to attend. When you cross a school off of your list, make a phone call or send a quick email to your admissions counselor, kindly asking them to withdraw your application.
10. Pray (A Lot)
There is absolutely nothing you can do to thwart God’s plan for your life. Nothing takes Him by surprise – not even where you decided to attend college! Keep Him involved in your decision making process and look to Him to light your path. He won’t fail you.