Applying to the perfect college can be a full-time job.
Students need a good application and great transcripts if they want to attend the college of their dreams. Now this means going above and beyond to set yourself apart from others.
Students need extracurricular activities to look like a well-rounded person. These activities should be diverse enough to show that you don’t pigeonhole yourself into one specific area, but they have to be focused enough to show that you know what you want to accomplish in life. How does one keep that balance?
Those extracurriculars have to be balanced with the actual schoolwork. A schedule that shows focus in electives and has plenty of challenging courses is the one college admissions offices are looking to see. Honors courses as freshmen and sophomores are a good start. Then when you get to your junior and senior years, AP classes are favorable.
At the end of junior year, the push to take the SAT and ACT comes. Most sophomores and juniors take the PSAT to prepare themselves for the actual test. Parents buy their kids prep books or place them in prep classes with a common goal: getting a good score. Some kids have tutors specifically for the new essay portion of the SAT.
Parents can even hire personal college counselors to advise their student on how to structure their application and when to apply and what to say in an interview.
Four years to prepare one application. Well, if you listen to the experts, five to seven applications should be sent out to possible schools. One application is for the perfect school for you. Another two or three are excellent options to choose if your perfect school doesn’t want you. Another two or three are back-up schools as a safety net.
First you have to find the perfect school for you. Spreadsheets are made to compare and contrast distance from home, classes offered, costs and financial aid. When you find your top contenders, you have to go on a college road trip to visit all the possibilities. Prepare for pro and con lists.
After the acceptance and rejection letters come in the mail, the students face their biggest decision. The pro and con lists become their lifelines as they choose what school they will be attending for the next four years.
Once the fateful decision is made, the student needs to figure out how to pay for school. Another round of applications for scholarships comes along. Students can also apply for FASFA money and various grants.
Getting into and choosing the perfect college or university has become quite the task. The preparation for college almost overshadows high school.
Katie Goodrich, of Hammond, is a junior at Gavit High School.The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.