College Application Process
Many applicants find the college selection process to be quite stressful. Some find it so distasteful that they spend inadequate time choosing the schools where they want to spend the next 4 years of their lives. The college you select will play a large role in your future. It will help or hinder your career development. It will be the place where many of your life-long friendships are established.
Along with your essays and letters of reference, the college selection can and should begin relatively early. The fall of your senior year will be a very busy time, so plan early to ensure your time is optimized and the senior year is made as stress free as possible. Serious consideration about college selection should begin by the junior year. In the beginning of your senior year you should have at least six schools identified.
Ask friends, older students, teachers, family, guidance counselors, and others for advice. Be sure to follow up with the "why?" question. Why did they like the professors? Why did they not like the campus? Remember, you have to make your own decisions and you will want to know the logic behind the input you are accepting for your decision.
Think about the criteria that matter most to you. For instance think, what is more important to you? Is it attending a very demanding university or being in warm weather or having a nationally-ranked football team important? Think about what criteria you look for in a university. All of the following should be carefully considered:
• Public versus Private
• Special Interest
• Choice of Majors
• Historically Black
• Innovative Curriculum
• Learning Disability
• Roman Catholic
A specific tool that can help you with this decision is an internet based program called "Bridges". This program was purchased by the Brockton High Guidance Department to assist students with career planning. By logging into this website you will be able to find a range of tools and resources that will help you to make sound decisions about your future. The program is divided into two major areas. Choices Explorer and Choices Planner. (See College and Career Resources on the BPS Website)
Some additional tools that can help you with your college/career decisions are available through online programs; College Board, You’re Plan for the Future, College Interactive and Mass CIS. These computer based programs assist students with college and career planning. By logging into these websites you will be able to find a range of tools and resources that will help you to make sound decisions about your future. The programs are divided into different areas that allow students’ to select courses necessary in high school to support their college major and areas of the website that assist with college/Career search and planning. In addition, you may use the College and Career Resources on the BPS Website to help with your search.
Alone or with the help of your guidance counselor you will create log in accounts for the websites. Various programs will help you when applying to colleges. Having knowledge of your grades, class rank, GPA and other requested input will enhance your search. Online programs will automatically match your personal criteria to appropriate colleges and universities. Your parents' will also be able to register for many of the website where they, as well as you, can do the following:
• write a resume
• create a college list
• compare colleges
• learn about financial aid
• view your academic history
• view SAT and ACT dates
• read college-related articles
• and much more.
Finally Here Are Four Tips for Working with Your Counselor
To make sure that your applications go out on time and that you keep your stress level to a minimum during this anxiety-filled process, you should:
1. Be Responsible.
Ultimately, you want to go to the college of your choice. Because you have one counselor and that counselor has many students, take charge of the application process. Know your deadlines, keep in contact with your counselor and ask questions along the way.
2. Be Organized.
Make a chart to keep track of different colleges' requirements, and mark a calendar with your application deadlines. Have a separate folder for each application so you can keep materials organized and easy to access. Ask for recommendations early in September, and write your essays well ahead of the deadlines. (Use the College Comparison Worksheet available in the Guidance Office.)
3. Be Early.
In the case of college applications, on time might not be good enough. Essays, recommendations, and transcript request forms should all be completed and submitted at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. Counselors and support staff fill these requests on a first-come, first-served basis, so get in the line as early as possible. Most application packets are mailed, so don't forget to leave time for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your application and for the college's internal mail service to process it. Finally, factor in some additional time for unanticipated errors and delays.
4. Be Relaxed.
Filling out college applications can be stressful. Try not to let it get you down. Make sure to go out and have fun with your friends; to take breaks when you need them; and to remember that, in the end, the college application process is just a series of steps you need to complete. Just focus on the tasks at hand.
The college application process can be stressful and exhausting-but it doesn't have to be. Organization, communication, patience, and reasonable expectations are the keys to making it a manageable and successful experience.