Tag Archives: how to apply to college

Common app for private colleges

7 Dec

Stanford University utilizes The Common Application.

Stanford University utilizes The Common Application.

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.

You may have already discovered that most private colleges use The Common Application; in fact, more than 600 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.

The prompts are structured to be no more than 650 words, on the following 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.


The College Board is your friend

24 Aug

The College Board offers excellent resources for students. You are most likely aware that the College Board administers the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). However, you might not know of several other helpful ways CB can help you.

1. bigfuture

The general website is http://www.collegeboard.org. From there go to the College Planning link to find some great resources through “bigfuture.” This feature of the website provides the following:

  • College Search: information on colleges you already know about
  • College matches: your connection to colleges you might not know about, based on information you provide
  • Helpful advice about choosing a major
  • Make a Plan: another online feature that helps you set out a plan through the My Organizer

2. The Official SAT Question of the Day and The Official SAT Practice Test

Get questions emailed to you on a daily basis. Take real SAT practice tests online. Our tiny school’s recent National Merit Scholar said she attributed her success to doing the SAT Question of the Day on a daily basis. Good scores equal GREAT scholarship money by doing well on the SAT. Go to http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/ to see the various ways you can practice for this test, so you are well prepared.

3. SAT Skills Insight

This will help you increase your skills in challenging areas.

4. My SAT Online Score Report

Learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can better prepare for the test.

5. My College QuickStart

If you have taken the PSAT, My College QuickStart is an invaluable tool to help you prepare for the SAT and create a personalized study plan. Again, the website is sat.org/practice.

Just a few reminders about the SAT and the ACT:

  • Freshmen, sophomores and juniors interested in going to a four-year university should take the PSAT on October 14. See your high school counselor to sign up for this test.
  • Seniors will need to have the SAT and/or ACT taken by the December test dates. Register online: https://sat.collegeboard.org/home
  • Juniors should take the test(s) by May or June of next year (the SAT will be redesigned then–read more about this on the College Board site), and then again probably the fall of their senior year.
  • Test scores are sent free to a half dozen colleges free if you indicate those colleges when you sign up. Otherwise, it costs more money later.
  • Fee waivers for these tests are available from your school counselor (saving you $54.50 for the SAT, ) if you qualify for free or reduced lunch or if you are receiving another form of government assistance.

Maximize your college fair experience

17 Oct

college fair

You can get a lot of bang for your zero-cost buck by attending a College Fair. These events, held typically in the fall and spring around the country bring college recruiters to cities to talk with prospective students and their parents. If you do not have the time or money to travel all over the country or even just your own state, you can get some pertinent information in a short couple of hours.

You can find one in your area by talking to your high school counselor. Some of the major ones are sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and its fairs are on the following schedule: http://www.nacacnet.org/college-fairs/students-parents/Pages/default.aspx. An organization on the West Coast that sponsors college fairs is the Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC), and the next one of those fairs will be held at the University of Nevada, Reno, on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 12 to 4 p.m. Students should register in advance to save time at the door for this FREE event:http://www.wacaccollegefair.com. Typically, as many as 200 or more colleges attend these events — and many of my former students found their dream college at one of those fairs.

As you search for these college fairs in your area, make sure that as you register online, that you are registering as a STUDENT and not a college rep. These are most always FREE events, so if the online form asks for payment . . . oops, you’ve got the wrong form!

Often these college reps are from the prospective students or outreach office at their university. However, sometimes you might find that admissions officers and perhaps even the head admissions counselor is standing right in front of you. You do not need to dress in business attire, but you will want to look sharp.

To make the most of these events, engage with the college representatives. As I’ve taken students to college fairs over many years, I give them a pep talk before we enter the event, saying something silly like this: “You’re happy! You’re smart! You’re friendly!” That gets a smile on their faces and helps them understand that they should be the one most proactive about getting the most from the experience.

Do the following:

1. Smile, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m John Jones, and I’m a student from Littletown.”

2. Explain what kind of college program you’re interested in. “I’m interested in mechanical engineering. Can you tell me something about your program?”

3. Engage in conversation about those subjects important to you. Here are some other great questions to ask:

  • “How would you characterize the students at your university?”
  • “What do students like most about the college?” “What do they like the least?”
  • “Is the faculty accessible to students other than the traditional office hours?”
  • “Are any departments being cut back or discontinued? If so, why?”
  • “What percentage of students receive merit-based financial aid? And what percentage of students receive need-based financial aid?”

You and your parents might want to make a list of important questions before you attend the college fair — ones that are most important to you.

I coach my students to ask each college rep at least a couple questions. One that can often catch a rep off-guard is “Do you like your job?” You can find out the true answer to that in their face — and that can say volumes about a school, too! If the rep was a student at that college, ask that person to relate some of their best and worst experiences.

Pick up any and all of the freebies: brochures, flyers, pens, and other trinkets. If you can’t use them, your friends and even your high school counselor probably can.