|Planning, College Visits & Interviewing
Successful college planning requires a combination of fortitude, gumption, and organization. Where shall a student begin? Which schools should make the "short" list? How might one systematize applications amid the demands of classes, extracurriculars, and life, in general? Continue reading for answers to these important questions.
During junior year, comprise a preliminary chart including possible reach, target and foundation schools. Clearly, many factors contribute to acceptance versus deferral; however, to begin, base selections on numerical criteria. A "reach" school is one where a student's grade point average, test scores and class rank fall a bit under the average for the aforementioned institution. "Targets" include those where a pupil's numerical data parallels the average for the college. "Foundations," also referenced as "safety" schools, may be colleges where test scores, rank and grade point averages fall below what the applicant has earned.
It is okay if the initial list is a bit lengthy. College visits and careful research will make editing much easier than suspected. Incorporate all institutions that meet the following decisive factors: excellent academic programs, size, location, distance from home, extracurricular offerings, boarding options, and campus environment. Next, register to take the SATs and/or ACTs. More information on each test may be acquired here
Finally, begin to schedule college appointments and interviews. Each campus offers a unique perspective and ambiance. Some provide a more liberal academic experience, while others present a more traditional approach to learning. Extracurricular activities will vary with each university, and suburban versus urban environments appeal to each individual student. A student should feel comfortable at each college to which he applies. Listen to intuition and respect the viewpoint sensed at each campus.
When visiting schools, absolutely arrange interviews with admissions. Admission officers not only answer many questions about their institutions, but they also take interest in every prospective student. Quite possibly, one who meets with a representative might be offered a position in the freshman class over a student who never took the time to visit. Clear interest in the university certainly carries significance when applications are evaluated. Consider the following interview tips adapted from the College Board.
Before the real thing, try a practice run. Creating a mock dialogue will make you more comfortable with questions that might arise. Also, remember to handwrite a thank you note to the school representative with whom you interview. A sincere note goes a long way!
Be Natural! Have starting points for your answers and questions after careful thought. Be spontaneous and conversational with your interviewer.
Expect Questions Specific to Each School: Why do you want to attend our college? What will you contribute to our campus life?
Expect Conversational Questions: What high school courses have you enjoyed most? Are your grades an accurate reflection of your potential? Which of your activities is most rewarding and why? What has been your biggest achievement? What's your opinion on [fill in current event]? How did you spend last summer? What do you want to do after you graduate from college? What's the most difficult situation you've faced? If you could change one thing about your high school, what would it be? What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What clubs/activities might you join on campus while here? What makes you stand out among other students?
Always Be Honest. It's okay to say, "I don't know" in answer to a question asked. You might follow that by saying, "but I'd like to find out!"
Additionally, if time permits, talk to students who are majoring in your desired field and make an appointment with a faculty member or advisor in the department. If you schedule a campus visit, sit in on a class. If you plan to participate in an activity, such as the newspaper, band, or radio station, speak to students who take part. Most importantly, always remember: to be on time, no chewing gum or candy, to say "yes" instead of "yeah", to elaborate on your answers, to sound enthusiastic!
Following the steps suggested above removes some mystery from college planning. Enduring the rigor of high school and balancing the process necessitate organization and focus; but if a student maintains momentum through the preparation, the end results will be his just reward.
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