College Visit and Application Tips
Taking a break from our list of important classroom elements, let’s take a moment to focus on our seniors. ‘Tis the season for college visits and applications. Deciding on the right college can be a daunting task, but with some organization and a game plan, it doesn’t have to be.
At this point, seniors don’t have to know exactly what they want to major in and exactly where they need to go. But they do need a plan. Consider these questions:
- Am I interested in a trade or a career that requires more schooling?
- Start here, because if a trade interests you, you’ll want to start pursuing the trade school route rather than applying to colleges that will only offer careers that don’t interest you. If you decide to attend college, move on to the next question.
- Do I want to go away to college or stay nearby?
- If you want to stay nearby, do a Google search and make a list of the colleges within the radius of home, and go from there. Note if you want to board at school or commute. If you are open to a college that may be in another state, make a list of the colleges that interest you, and why.
- Narrow your list to about 5 or so colleges that interest you for whatever reasons are important to you.
- Do I want to take my general electives while I live at home first, and then go away?
- One option that may save money is to take your general electives while living at home for the first couple of years, and then move onto the college of your choice. This option is a good idea for the senior who really cannot decide on a major, the senior who would like to save money, and the senior who may be placed on a waiting list for the college of their choice.
- How do I plan on paying for college?
- This is a family discussion. Discuss how much money, if any, is provided by parents, and if you will work while attending college.
- Look into scholarships. Florida offers many scholarships, and often individual colleges offer scholarships as well. Find and apply for as many as you can. This can easily be done in a Google search.
- Look into financial aid with each college.
- Look into where you might apply for loans once you have been accepted to the college of your choice.
- What are some careers that interest me?
- Examine the majors offered at each college, and determine which interest you. Thoroughly research what is required to get your degree and the kinds of careers that major will allow.
- Speak with individuals who have taken that career path, to get a realistic idea of what that career and the college work is like.
- What are my strengths as a student and an individual?
- College applications require you to know yourself well. You essentially must show your best self to each college. You should not lie, or even stretch the truth. However, they don’t know you, so you must present yourself in the best possible light. Make a list of your strengths.
- Google resume qualities and characteristics. That may help you with verbiage.
- Make a list of the clubs, organizations, service, leadership, volunteering, extra-curriculars, etc. you were involved in during your high school career. Think about what each of these things says about you as a person.
- What are my long-term goals?
- Imagine what you want your life to look like when you’re 40. Work backwards from there to help you decide on a college and a major.
- Do I know what each school is like?
- If a college has made your short list of about 5 schools, visit it. You can’t make an informed decision without stepping foot on campus. Each college should offer tours to prospective students. Be sure to do this long before applications are due.
- Ask questions. Make a list of all the questions you have, and be sure to ask them. The more informed you are, the better you can decide if you want to apply.
- Try, to the best of your ability, to imagine what life would be like in each school. Chances are you’ll get a good feel for life on campus, and you should be honest with yourself if you are comfortable in that environment.
- Who are my references?
- Accumulate references: people who will speak well of you and recommend you to the college to which you’re applying. Think of teachers, youth leaders, organization leaders, and bosses in particular. These should be people who can accurately describe your character and qualities.
- What are the requirements for applications?
- Carefully read what each college requires for applications. Some will require test scores, application fees, references, and even essays.
- Take note of when applications are due. Make an effort to send in your applications long before the deadline.
With these ten tips in mind, you’re off and running in your quest to find the right college for you. Don’t stress, just get started!
Lakeside Christian School wishes our seniors the best as they plan their futures. Our prayer for them is that they will “trust in the Lord with all [their] heart and lean not on [their] own understanding. In all [their] ways acknowledge him, and he will make [their] paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5-6