Did someone say college? It's application season!

For some it means stress and for others it means no more high school, but for everyone it means applications. That’s right, along with senior year comes the big task of applying and committing to college. However, it isn’t just that easy. No one should speed through the process. 



WARNING: If you ignore the previous sentence, the following mistakes may be ones you make on your application:
  1. I want to be bilingual in three or more languages.
  2. I have made the horror role every semester.

But in all seriousness, college applications are more than proof-reading for spelling errors. Based on an interview with Ms. Claudine Hart, a guidance counselor at L-S, here are the top 3 MUST DOs in applying for college. 

1) RESEARCH: Not every college is the same. Do you like a big school or small school? Does the college have your major? How close to home do you want to be? Do you want a two-year or four-year school? These are all questions you will not be able to acquire answers to without research. Research can include anything from online website surfing to college visits. Websites such as College Board help students “order” what they want in a college and get varying options. Almost all colleges also hold open houses to give prospective students a glimpse into what life would be like there. Take advantage of that! 

MISTAKE: Sending applications to schools about which you know little is a bad idea. Don’t just apply to every college that you get a letter from in the mail. You would be applying for weeks and would be wasting a good amount of money on application fees. Through research, narrow down the list to a handful of schools that seem like a good fit for you and go from there!
2) DEADLINES: Even though high school teachers may extend deadlines or make exceptions, colleges will not. Keep track of the early decision, early action, final application, and financial aid deadlines. Keeping a note sheet of the handful of colleges you are looking at and the deadlines for each is a helpful tool.

MISTAKE: Is early decision the same thing as early action? NO. Early decision is when a student applies to a college early and commits to that college permanently. It is binding. Early action, however, is non-binding. If students apply early action, they get an early response to their application, but do not have to commit to that particular college right then and there.
3) REQUIREMENTS: It is crucial to know all the requirements for applying to a college. Most times, a college requests more than just the physical application form. They may also want an essay, a transcript, or several recommendations. 

MISTAKE: You may have to write the essay by yourself, but you are not the only one who should read it. Get a past English teacher to edit your writing. You want to give the application your best work. Just as if you were getting graded on it!

The college application may seem daunting, and it may conjure fears of making a mistake, but don't worry. Everyone going to college completes this process, so you are definitely not alone. Take time to do your research, visit schools, talk to guidance counselors, and apply for scholarships.  And remember a prescient proverb: “If you want to find the right road, follow many paths, be willing to try new things, and don’t be afraid to change the direction along the way. Leave your doors open.”

--Mackenzie Miller, LSNews.org Senior Staff Writer

Edited: BP

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