Everyone is feeling groggy and sluggish, some people are getting sick in the bathrooms, and a few people even feel like passing out daily. That’s right – it’s college application time.
In what some call the most stressful time in a teenager’s life, seniors are starting their journeys to life beyond high school. And for some, that means applying to colleges.
For those seniors who haven’t begun to think about college, now is the time. Senior Jay Kain hasn’t really started to think about college. “I know I want to go to college, and I have a couple of places in mind. But to be honest, I barely have a clue about what I’m doing after high school,” he said.
South Unit Guidance Counselor Larry Lamb says the first thing a senior should do is think. “For students who haven’t started the college application process, you need to take time to think. Decide whether you want to go to a four-year school or a two-year school and what you might be interested in,” he said.
A good place to start looking at colleges is online. Lamb recommends www.ocis.ode.state.oh.us for seniors who are just beginning their college search, because the site has information on every college in the United States and information on programs people can study.
The next thing seniors should do is match their interests with the right colleges. “The most important part of the college application process is doing the research. See which college is the best fit for you. Once you have that out of the way, the process gets way easier,” Lamb said.
Hundreds of sites can help match students’ interests with the right colleges including www.collegedata.com, which includes a search engine that includes categories in price, student body, programs and location.
However, the next part of the college search is by far the most stressful: filling out the application. Senior Katie Lowden feels terrified just thinking about sending in her application. “The applications are really intimidating. It’s hard to believe that whether or not you’ll get in to a college boils down to this one thing you do,” she said.
It’s important to take the time to carefully fill out the application, but it’s also important not to waste any valuable time. “Every college has a deadline and it’s essential to pay attention to that,” Lamb said. “Whatever work you need your counselors to do should be in two weeks prior to the deadline.”
Kain thinks the most daunting task about applying is the essay. “How am I supposed to be creative, show the college exactly who I am, do the prompt and make sure my grammar is perfect all in 300 words or less?” he said.
So what should seniors keep in mind while writing their college essays? “Make sure to be yourself on those essays, and don’t guess what that college is looking for. The college wants to know what you’re like; that’s why they have you do it,” Lamb said. “Also, have somebody proofread it, like a teacher, parent or friend, to make sure other people can read it.”
After seniors across the nation send those applications, they begin checking their mailboxes daily for the letter that could change their lives.
Lowden can’t wait to find out where she gets in. “I’m so excited every time I see something from colleges. But it’s crazy that I’ll be receiving the most important letter I’ll ever get in just a few short months,” she said.
But on days when seniors aren’t stressing out about colleges, the winter is also great time to go on college visits.
“Make sure you visit the college and get around the campus. It’s going to be your home for the next four years of your life, so you should make sure you feel comfortable there,” Lamb said. “And more or less, most of the time your decision will be based on how you feel when you’re there.”