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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

College Applications

This  is  the  time  when parents and  students  are  making decisions about college.   I have been through this process three times  with my sons and would like to share with you some of  the things I learned about choosing and surviving college.

    The process of applying to colleges can be time-consuming and discouraging.  Many students begin enthusiastically investigating and  visiting colleges only to become discouraged and “burn  out” when  they  are faced with the application forms.  As  a  result, important deadlines are  unmet.   My first  piece of advice therefore, is to begin early and to do a little bit at a time.

     Students  who  know  they  are going  to  apply  to  college should  begin keeping records as early as possible.  They  should list  everything:  clubs,  jobs,  community  activities,  sports, trips,   special  events  and  so  forth.   When  faced  with  an application   form,   most   students   forget   very   important information.

     Students  usually  know  that  they have  to  take  the  SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Tests) as part of the admission  requirement to most colleges.   Many students do not realize,  however,  that many colleges also require achievement tests.  It is best to take these  tests  immediately  after the student  has  completed  the course  in  high school.   Not only is information fresh  in  the student’s  mind  at this time,  but this system also  allows  the student to space these tests over several years. 

     Most  college admission offices agree that the interview  is not  very  important.   What  is  important  is  the  composition required  by most colleges.   I believe the best compositions are those written from the heart.   One applicant wrote a composition in  which she described her room and told what everything  in  it meant  to  her.   Her choice of subject matter made great  sense, since she was certainly the world’s expert on the topic.  She was admitted to the college of her choice.

     Selectivity  in college applications is important,  not only because they require so much work but also because of the expense involved  in  each application.   It is best to apply to no  more than  five colleges and one of the five should be a  college  the student knows will accept him or her.  This is not as difficult a task  for the students who know what they want to study as it  is for those who have no major choice.   Since most schools are not strong  in  all departments,  students should choose  the  school which has an outstanding department in the major of their choice. 

     Students  who choose a college because it is “in” that year, may be setting themselves up for disappointment.   Many  students feel  that  they are at a great disadvantage if they do  not  get into  the prestigious colleges and they  have somehow  failed before  they  even  start.   The idea that there  is  only  “one” college  to  go to in order to be successful is simply not  true. What makes students successful in college is the effort they put into it.

     Since  few  students  begin  their major  studies  in  their freshman year,  there is always a good chance of transferring  to their  first or second choice college in the junior  year.   Many colleges  have  high  attrition  rates in the  first  two  years.  Colleges that are difficult to get into in the freshman year, are sometimes easier to get into in the junior year because there  is not  as  much competition.   Another reason is that grades are  a better  predictor  of  college  performance  than  SAT   scores.  Students  who do well at another college have proven  themselves and  college  admission offices are taking less of  a  chance  on their future success than they are with freshman applicants.

     No matter what the final choice is,  however,  students need to remember that they can succeed anywhere, since it is what they put into the experience that makes the difference.  Many students decide  after  the  first semester,  that they do  not  like  the college they choose and want to come home or transfer.   I  would suggest  that  you encourage your children to stay at  least  two years  at their college.   Most students come to love the schools they  are attending and when properly motivated,  get  very  good educations.

Posted in Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to College Applications

  1. Jessica says:

    If you MUST take online courses, you should DEFINITELY take them under the auspices of a well-known and REGIONALLY (not nationally) accredited university. Many reputable state universities offer affordable online courses(and even degrees) these days. Please do research before you waste your money. Stay away from for-profit online schools. Stick with Distance Education programs from known state schools. Here is a list of regional accreditation associations. If the program you are considering is not accredited by one of these bodies, you should look elsewhere.Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools New England Association of Schools and Colleges North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Northwest Association of Schools and College sWestern Association of Schools and College sSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools

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