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Use the Common App for private schools

31 Oct

The perennial #1 liberal arts college, Williams College, uses the Common Application.

A former student of mine recently graduated from the perennial #1 liberal arts college, Williams College (Williamstown, MA). 

Now that you have probably finished your state school college applications, you most likely are now focused on getting applications done for the private colleges on your list. These are often due by the end of December–but check the deadlines and calendar them diligently!

You may have already discovered that most private colleges use The Common Application; in fact, almost 700 colleges utilize this form of application. Go to commonapp.org.

You will find that you are able to complete just this one application for several different colleges, with the possibility, though, that one college’s essay requirement may be different than another’s.

In regard to the personal essay, you will write no more than 650 words on one of the following five topics:

 

  • A background, identity, interest or talent that is meaningful to you.
  • Lesson from a failure.
  • A time you challenged a belief or idea.
  • A problem you’ve solved.
  • An accomplished that signified your transition from childhood to adulthood.

Your high school will be notified to send a counselor’s report and grades — but you will want to stay tuned in to make sure they are submitted on a timely basis. Additionally, letters of recommendation may be required by your colleges. Request those early in the process, as it takes up to an hour to prepare a good one.

If you have questions, Common App technical support personnel are available 24/7.

 

How to win more scholarships

28 Oct

college-scholarships

You increase your chances of winning a scholarship significantly if you understand the organization that sponsors the scholarship and the kind of student that organization would choose to reward with a scholarship.

Before you start filling out the scholarship application, do some research:

  • Read all of the materials that accompany the scholarship application. Often the organization will give some history about the group and/or the scholarship.
  • Go to the organization’s website and read all about the organization.
  • Ask your school counselor or other adults about the organization.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are these people?
  • Why do they give scholarships?
  • For what kind of student are they looking?
  • What kinds of qualities do they want to see in the scholarship winner?

For example, your local Rotary Club is part of an international organization made up of business leaders in communities. Rotary members focus on fund-raising so as to sponsor various community-service projects, which often include scholarships for local high school students.

You can imagine, then, that Rotary Club members may be looking for students who represent the best of their own qualities, especially leadership and a mindset that community service is important.

Because my daughter had done a lot of community service for her school — organizing a school-wide effort to paint student murals on exterior walls and to spruce up the girls’ bathroom — she was a natural for a  great scholarship from Lowe’s, the home improvement store.

As you work on your scholarship application for an organization, think about those qualities that you have and those activities you have completed that would appeal most to your audience — that organization’s scholarship review committee.

CAUTION: NEVER misrepresent who you are to a scholarship organization. However, you do want to relate on that application the best of who you are that will dovetail with that organization.

And remember . . . always complete every application for which you are qualified. You won’t win every single scholarship for which you apply, but you also will not win any scholarship for which you don’t apply.

 

Tips for keeping organized

24 Oct

Are you getting bogged down with college application paperwork?

Are you getting bogged down with college application paperwork?

As you are amassing stacks of brochures, applications, and other paperwork relating to your college search and financial aid process, you will quickly find you’ve got a giant mess!

The following office supplies can help you create a simple system:

  • File box (with hanging files) or large accordian file
  • Box of file folders

 

Then organize your materials like this:

College info:

  • Create a separate file folder for each different college.
  • Write passwords and other important access info on the inside of the file folder.
  • On the COVER of the file folder, write the due date of the application along with a checklist for every item you need to complete the application.
  • When  you have completed the application, print out a copy and keep it in the file.

Scholarship info:

  • Create a separate file folder for each scholarship.
  • On the COVER of the file folder, write the due date of the scholarship along with a checklist for every item you need to complete the application.
  • Keep a hard copy of all scholarship applications and responses.

Financial aid info:

  • Create separate file folders for any financial aid paperwork: FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and state grant info, as appropriate.
  • Write login info and passwords on the inside of the file folder.
  • Keep hard copies of all paperwork.

Order the files in the box, according to due date. The nearest due date should be in the front, followed by the next due item and so forth.

Then, check your file system on a daily basis, so that you stay on top of what needs to be done. You can also calendar these deadlines in your planner or on a calendar on your phone.

It’s not rocket science, senior — but this simple system will keep you on track!