In your initial investigation, you will find that there are an incredible number of colleges and programs from which to choose. Keep in mind that there is no single college or university that is absolutely right for you. There are probably many colleges that will meet your academic and personal needs.
The college admissions process produces a lot of anxiety on the part of both students and parents. What is the right college for you? Will you get into the college of your choice? Will you be able to afford it? The best way to ensure that you make the right choice is to be organized and begin your search as early as possible. Pursuing a strong college preparatory program early in your high school career is most essential. Careful planning of your course selections beginning in ninth grade has been the most important ingredient. Your chances of being admitted into any particular college will depend, of course, on the selectivity of the college and on your qualifications.
Process of Applying: An Overview
Because the process of selecting a college is very personal, it must begin with self-reflection. You must consider many things about yourself: your goals, strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for going to college; then, consider the various criteria which you will use in making college choices.
Before the first conference to discuss colleges with your guidance counselor, you should think about answers to the following questions.
- What type of school or college would you attend? Liberal Arts? Business? Engineering? Music Conservatory? School of Nursing? Technical or Trade School? What is your tentative choice of major? Do not worry if you are unsure about a major but give the matter some serious thought.
- What geographical area of the country do you want for your ideal college?
- Do you want to attend a small college or a large university? A one-year certificate program or a two-year or four year program?
- Co-educational or single-sex institution?
- In what environment do you want your college? Urban? Rural? Suburban?
- Will you need financial aid in order to meet the costs? How much money are you and your family able to afford for college?
You should discuss with your guidance counselor the answers to the previous questions in relation to your academic “profile” – (grades, course levels, rank-in-class, test scores, and activities). The result of the discussion should be a list of colleges, which meet most of your criteria.
- Admissions requirements
- Majors and programs of study available
- Academic reputation
- Extracurricular activities
- Characteristics of student body
- Costs and sources of financial aid
- Student-faculty ratio
The next step in the process is to secure information about the colleges on your list of possible choices. You can obtain the addresses of the colleges through reference books in the guidance office, school library or public library, or using the Internet. In writing to colleges to obtain literature, a plain postcard is most effective. Address it to: Director of Admissions. Since you are only a potential applicant, you need not send a lengthy letter. As the literature from the colleges arrives, you should read it thoroughly. It may be useful to summarize the information in a notebook or on an index card. Many college Web Sites will give you all the information you want plus allow you to contact them directly via email.
During the summer between your 11th and 12th grade or in early fall of your senior year, you should plan to visit the colleges in which you are particularly interested. There is no substitute for a visit to the college as a means of assessing the school. During this same time frame, you should phone or write to request application forms. Be aware of deadlines. Completed applications with your check should be turned in to your guidance counselor who will prepare your transcript which includes grade 12 courses in progress and standardized test scores (ACT, SAT). Your guidance counselor will prepare a written recommendation and sign and mail the application. Processing of this information by the guidance office takes time and should be considered in relation to deadline dates.
Depending upon the timetable and policy of the college, applicants may be notified of the admissions decision at various times. Once all requested information is received by the college, the stage is set. The anxiety and paranoia inherent in the senior year begins to take hold! The greatest source of consolation for you and your parents during the entire process comes from the fact that it’s all over by May 1st which is final notification day, the last day for colleges to appraise students of their decisions. Relative to life itself, the six months or so that it takes is a comparatively short period of time!
Sources of information available to you
- Your counselor/teachers
- College representatives (check with the guidance secretary for dates and times of representatives visiting T.H.S. throughout the year). Also, listen to the morning P.A. announcements every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to find out which reps are expected.
- There is a computer terminal in the guidance office for student use. The CHOICES program provides updated information on 2 year and 4-year colleges, graduate schools, career information, scholarship aid, and information on jobs in the military services.
- College Alumni/ae
- The Hudson Mohawk Consortium visit at Troy High School and the College Fair at HVCC sponsored at year
- College students/College campus visitations
- Internet – Virtual visits, WEB sites, and Internet