According to Dr. Nancy Berk in her article for the Huffington Post, this year approximately 3 million families are in the middle of college and scholarship application chaos. Deadlines are right around the corner and the "to do" list is jammed - ACTs, SATs, college visits, essay writing, recommendation letters, portfolios, financial aid forms, applications and more applications. With the exception of early decision admissions (fraught with it's own dilemmas), there's no rest or peace until May 2012, when the deals are sealed.
So what are parents and college bound students to do. To put it simply - PREPARE! The website, www.collegeview.com offers some helpful suggestions. First, know which application the college of your choice requires. Most colleges accept the Common Application, while other schools require an application specific to that institution.
Second, a college bound student should be acquiring the needed supplements to any college application - an official high school transcript, letters of recommendation and standardized tests (ACT, SAT) scores. Many colleges or universities require that the scores be sent directly to them versus reported on your high school transcript.
Third, a college bound student should carefully and thoughtfully prepare his or her personal essay. A personal essay may be the toughest and most time-consuming document to put together. It is important to find your voice because this is the chance for the admissions staff to get to know you beyond your test scores. Read the questions carefully and follow directions. Most importantly, proofread! proofread! proofread!
Fourth, in some cases or degree paths, it is necessary to submit a personal portfolio of the student’s work. Prepare this portfolio carefully so that it best showcases the student’s talents. In addition, while it is not required by all colleges or universities, often an interview with the admissions staff will be necessary. See this as another way for the admissions department to get to know you. However it is recommended that you do prepare and have answers, as well as questions ready to go.
Fifth, it is important for the parents of a college bound student to get prepared to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Regardless of the parent’s income, this is an important step that should be completed as early in January as possible. Many merit-based scholarships, as well as all federal grants or loans require the completion of the FAFSA.
Finally, it can not be emphasized enough the importance of being aware of application deadlines. The college bound student will need to have an accurate and completed application filed by the deadline, which means that all documents must be turned in by that date. Applications postmarked by the deadline may be OK, but one will want to contact a school to find out what their policy is.
There are many resources within the Springfield-Greene County Library system that can help guide a student and his or her parents in the college and scholarship application process. Try the following books:
Admission matters : what students and parents need to know about getting into college
by Sally P. Springer, Marion R. Franck.
In! college admissions and beyond : the experts' proven strategy for success
by Lillian Luterman and Jennifer Bloom.
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