Nancy's Columns

Applying to College

Under topic: high_school-coll_aps

It is college application time again. This year may mark the beginning of a new trend: less competition for the coveted spots.

Not only is there less money available for the high tuitions but there may be fewer college applicants. By the year l994, the number of high school seniors will hit a 25-year low. In previous years, the most prestigious colleges were chosen by students not necessarily because they had the best program for them but because of the name. The rationale went something like this: "I beat out all of the competition to be accepted here. Since I was accepted that means I am better than those who did not make it.

I have already done the hard work by getting accepted and now I can relax and have fun." This is the way the students in Japan think and act. In America it does not work that way and some students found that, because they made a choice for the wrong reason, they failed. Because students may find it easier to get admitted to the college of their choice, their self esteem need not be bound up with whom got into which most prestigious college or with whom was rejected and failed before he even began.

In order to make an informed decision, high school students need to talk to students who are going to colleges that are on their list of possibilities.

With a sense of relief, students can now go about picking a college for the right reason, i.e. the one that has a program which matches their talents, aspirations, and ability to be academically successful.

As a result, there should be more successful, satisfied students and fewer dropouts. Students may have more work ahead of them in choosing a college, however, if they forgo the luxury of just relying on getting accepted to the college that is "in" this year. Students now need to do their own leg work and not depend on college catalogues to make choices.

In order to make an informed decision, high school students need to talk to students who are going to colleges that are on their list of possibilities.

They should talk to as many students as they can when they visit college campuses.

First-hand information is better than information from a fancy catalogue. Remember, the students are beginning to be pursued and the catalogues are going to make more and more promises. College tuitions are rising and the recession is making money tight. Students need to find ways to make their tuition dollars go further. One possibility is to consider going to a junior or community college for the first two years and transferring to the college of their choice as a junior.

These two years, if used wisely, help make students more aware of their goals and they can make more informed decisions.

In order to save on the expense of college applications, students should consider applying for early decision to one school.

If accepted, the student is expected to attend that school.

If not accepted, the student still has the option of applying to that college in the regular time frame and he also has time to apply to other colleges.

All students should apply early in their senior year to colleges in order to have a better chance at financial aid. Different colleges offer different financial aid packages. It is important for students to know what that is before making a final decision.

They may find that a school which they felt was too expensive gives the best package. Students should not eliminate a good choice from consideration because of cost. With aid, it may turn out to be the best deal. Students should not get too cocky because this may be the beginning of the year of the applicant. They should use this as an opportunity to become informed without having the pressure of being rejected. It is important for students to begin this process early. Burn-out occurs quickly because the process is so time consuming. Good, early planning is the key to a good choice and a successful and rewarding college experience.

First published in 1992

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