|Getting into College and Choosing the "Right Fit"
Once you have prepared a thoughtful list of Colleges and you have begun to prepare applications, a strategy must be devised. What major will you declare? Is your course work in high school properly preparing you for the future? Does the choice of major impact college admission? What is the difference between early decision versus early action? Should you opt for institutions that offer rolling admission? Which school offers the perfect fit for you? As these questions swim through your mind, a bit of research and careful preparation may alleviate your concerns.
First and foremost, if you, like many high school seniors, are unsure of what major you prefer, indicate “undecided” on your applications. It is a myth that marking undecided has a negative impact on admission. On the contrary, it may open doors to more possibilities. Popular majors include engineering and business. Especially for males, these two choices equal more competition and additional applicants over whom to prevail. Eliminating other majors as possibilities should only occur when a student is absolutely certain about his future career goals. Educating oneself about the academic offerings and requirements of an institution is an essential part of college planning. For instance, if a student intends to pursue studies in science, he or she must be sure to have completed the appropriate courses in high school. A pupil desiring to become a doctor should generally have completed biology, chemistry and physics at the high school level. Clearly, there are students who may not have completed the aforementioned course work and become successful physicians; however, certain preparatory classes provide a more advanced level of groundwork for college study. Likewise, a skilled artist who expects to attend a renowned art school would benefit from having a completed portfolio before high school graduation. Covering all required course work for each field of study would be an impractical feat in one document. Determining the classes and credits that each college program necessitates may be found on college and university websites.
One might also inquire of the competitiveness of each major field of study. Does the choice of major impact college admission? The answer varies with each program and every school. Certainly, more popular programs, such as business, may be more competitive. Moreover, some universities, such as the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, expect that once a major is declared, there is not much room for deviation from the rigorous curriculum. Again, careful planning and consideration must be paid to the demands of each course of study.
Some students opt to apply for early decision or early action. The main difference between the two terms is that early decision is legally binding. Additionally, there are several schools that consider their early action option as enforceable as well, but they are the exception. Precise information on each, including submission due dates, may be found on school websites. Both early decision and early action may give a student a bit of an edge over other prospectives, because ED and EA indicate fervent interest in a particular institution; but ED and EA should only be considered if a student feels strongly about the establishment. A scholar should only apply early decision if he has no reservation about the specific college; he should be 110% certain that the respective university or college is perfect for him. Early action may be appropriate for those schools where interest is quite high, but still indefinite.
Contrary to early deadlines, rolling admission follows what the name suggests. While early applications are expected by November, rolling admission carries a bit less pressure to complete a student’s file before the start of the New Year. Sometimes, acceptance letters are received only weeks after submission; frequently, decisions shall be expected in the spring semester. Although candidates may have more time to submit their documents with rolling admission, once an institution achieves its acceptance restrictions, spaces for matriculation may be limited. Undeniably, a more prepared student, who offers her submission early, may rest more comfortably knowing her file is complete
Finally, the last question, “What is the perfect fit for me?”, is, perhaps, the most important. College is not only about where a student gets accepted; it is about succeeding and growing, both academically and personally, once one matriculates. If gaining admission to a particular college is the most distressing and harrowing experience a pupil has ever had, conceivably, contentedness may not necessarily follow at such an institution. Following one’s intuition when visiting a campus may be a valuable key to determining potential gratification at that university. Ask yourself, “Do I fit in here?”; “Do I feel comfortable in this environment?”; “Do the academic programs meet my needs?”; and most notably, “Can I grow here?” In order to find the right fit for you, the answers to each of these questions should be a resounding “Yes!”
This article was written for College Notepad by Tara Campasano Malia. Tara is an experienced educator and college admissions consultant. She provides comprehensive college advising and consulting services for all high school students. To learn more visit www.coll-edge.com