Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lovely Letters

Hey everyone! Another step that is very important to your college application process is letters of recommendation.  Almost all private universities require letters of recommendation from a counselor and teachers, but most public schools do not. Since I am applying to a lot of private schools, this aspect of the application is very important to me.
Most of the time you are assigned to a school counselor who write about you, but the teachers are completely by choice. Because of this, it is very important you choose wisely. Try to pick teachers not just because you got a good grade in their class, but because they know you on a deeper level. Teachers who know about your work ethic and leadership can write a much more convincing letter to colleges about your academic ability than a teacher who knows nothing about you. Sometimes the best letters emerge from the classes your got lower grades in, because the teachers can comment on how hard you tired and you really worked for the grade you got. Some colleges require only one letter, but most require a letter from two teachers. The teachers who are writing your letters should also be teachers or a core curriculum class like math or science. I chose my United States History/Model UN teacher and Calculus teacher who is also my tennis coach because they both know me on levels both in and out of school.
Since the required letters must be from core curriculum classes, there is also opportunity to summit one or two additional letters from teachers, coaches, or any individual whose letter could add to your application. Pick a person who is unique to something you do, like the advisor of a club or community service coordinator.
All in all, the letter of recommendation is just one part of the rigorous process that is college applications. But with the right preparation and pick, it should be smooth sailing.

Who would write your letter of recommendation for college? Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Advanced Applications, College Credentials

Hey everyone! When applying to colleges, you have three main choices for your application: early decision, early action, or regular decision. Regular decision is pretty self explanatory. I am applying to practically all my schools regular decision, which means that I fill out and summit all my applications by the first week of January. However, early decision and early action are a bit more complicated. Below, I will tell you all about early decision and early action: the pros, the cons, and what I recommend.

Early Decision
When you apply for a school early decision, that means you summit your application for the one school you want to apply early around November. Early decision plans are binding. That means if you apply to a school and are accepted you must attend. As an early decision applicant, you apply early to your favorite school and receive a decision early, normally by December. You must attend that school unless you have a financial restraint. You can only apply to one college early decision, but as many colleges regular decision as you want. However if you are accepted to your early decision school, you must withdraw all other applications.

Early Action
While you still apply to one specific school in Novemember for early action, the plan is nonbinding, which means students recieve an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1st. When applying early, you receive your admission decision early like January or February and are allowed to apply to other colleges during the regular decision application process. Most schools have restrictive early action, so you can only apply to one. If you are accepted, you have until may first to give your decision.

Applying early is not for everyone. Only apply to a school early if you have researched the college, are sure it is your number one, have found a strong match academically, socially, and geographically, meet the SAT and GPA averages, and have a solid academic record. Personally, I am not ready to commit to a school yet, so I am applying early action to one school, and regular decision to the rest. But ultimately the choice is up to you. Start thinking about schools and preparing early so if you want to apply early, you are ready!

Find out more about Early Decision vs. Early Action by clicking here.

Would you apply early to your first choice college? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Common Colleges

Hey everyone! September is a very exciting, and stressful, month for seniors. This is because it is the first month where college applications are well underway! I am starting my applications this month, and am already feeling the work! However, it is a very interesting process to go through, as you decide where you want to spend your next four years.
The Common Application is
an application accepted by 488 private schools in the United States. I am applying to many private schools, so I am using the Common App a lot. When starting my applications, the first step I did was set up an account.
The Common App is an application that can be hand written or filled in online. In addition to the general information most colleges require supplemental essays or information along with the Common App. There are even some private colleges that do not accept the Common App, and you have to fill out a separate application if you want to apply to them.
The Common App is very user friendly and easy to use. It opens August 1st every year, so I started checking it out early and did some work over the summer.
Once I made an account, I started adding the schools I wanted to apply to. Then I started filling out the basic information about myself, my school record, and my testing history. Teacher and school counselor recommendations are also needed, so be prepared to ask a teacher you think can write a good and meaningful letter about you. Once all the data is filled, letters are written, and essays are finished, I will be ready to summit my application! Over the next couple of months, I will continue to work on my Common Application. But since this application is just for private schools, I still have to fill out more applications for my state schools. It's a lot of work, but it is worth it to find the perfect school for me!

To find out more about the Common App, click here

Where do you plan on applying to college? Is it a Common App school? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, September 3, 2012

5 Tips for the College Application Superstar

Hey everyone! Now that summer is over and the school year is upon us, I will be starting a new segment all about the college application process. I am starting my senior year of high school here in the United States, and my blog will keep you updated on everything you need to know about the college application process as I go through it! Here is an overview of some of the things I will be talking about that you can do in high school to get ready for the application process.

1. Enroll in challenging classes and take them seriously
We all know that hard classes can be, well, difficult. However, colleges also know this and will reward you for challenging yourself. The level of coursework and your GPA (Grade Point Average) is important. Honors and AP (advance placement) classes, generally, add extra points to your GPA, so you may get an extra boost. Beginning in freshman or sophomore year, take the most challenging classes you can and do your best. Seek outside tutoring (often available free from older students) on difficult subjects. 
2. Get involved outside the classroom
Show that you have passions outside of school. Whether it's sports, music, drama, debate, community service, or other school clubs, select  2-3 extracurriculars that interest you. Don't join every club you come in contact with. Instead, focus on a few that demonstrate your interest and work towards leadership positions. Show the admissions team that you have leadership qualities.
3. Prepare for the SAT or the ACT early
Your score on these tests matter, so take the time to prepare early in your junior year. You can take these tests as many times as you want, so start early incase you may want to retake them. You can study review books or attend review sessions to help improve your score. Give yourself time to take the tests more than once to improve your score before senior year. 
4. Research colleges and universities
There are almost 3000 colleges and universities in the US, so you can find a school that is a perfect fit for you. Take time to research the details of different schools online. Schools vary by size, location, specialties, student body, and cost. Many offer generous financial aid and scholarships. If you are able, try to drive or fly to visit schools that interest you. Get a feel for the campus and meet current faculty and students.
5. Choose summer experiences that highlight your interest

Use your summer breaks during high school wisely. Look for summer jobs, programs, classes, or camps that demonstrate your interest and give you experience in your areas of interest. Internships are another fun and responsible way to show colleges your interests and responsibility

How are you getting ready to apply to college? Let me know in the comments below!