College and Career Corner

Finding the Perfect College

Most students want to find the "perfect" college. The truth is, there's no such thing. You can find many colleges where you can be happy and get a great education. The college search is about exploring who you are and what you want and then finding colleges that will meet your goals.

Before searching consider these EIGHT FACTORS:

  1. Size
  2. Location
  3. Available Majors and classes
  4. Available extracurricular activities
  5. Distance from home
  6. Makeup of the student body
  7. Housing Options
  8. Campus Atmosphere

Questions to consider:

  • Which of these aspects are things you feel you must have to be comfortable at a college?
  • On which factors are you flexible?
  • What do you want to accomplish in college?
  • Do you want to train for a specific job or get a wide-ranging education?
  • If you have a major in mind, do the colleges you are considering specialize in that major?

Bigfuture.collegeboard.org is a great option to sort through the many options out there, based on your preferences.

Steps you can take to find colleges where you will thrive:

  • Keep an open mind: Although it's good to have some ideas in mind about what sorts of colleges will be right for you, stay open to all the possibilities at the beginning of your search.
  • Talk to people who know you: Tell parents, teachers, relatives, friends, and your school counselor about your goals, and ask if they can suggest colleges that may be a good fit for you.
  • Don't limit your search: At the start of this process, you may rule out colleges because you think they are too expensive or too hard to get into, but this may not be the reality. Remember, financial aid can make college more affordable, and colleges look at more than just grades and test scores.
  • Do your homework: Once you have a list of schools, it's time to do some research. To learn more about the colleges you're considering, check out college guidebooks and websites. Talk to your school counselor, check out colleges' student blogs, contact college admission officials and visit college campuses.

College Application Tips

Stay cool

College applications can be stressful to complete, but this is also an exciting time. Work with your counselor, your parents, and others to get through it all. You got this!

Plan ahead

Review each part of the applications before you get to work. Some applications will require the same basic information and others will have unique requests.

Get organized

Keep track of the materials and many parts for each application. Make a folder for each application to keep all materials together.

Be accurate

Ensure that you put together an organized and accurate application. Review for grammar and typos. Make sure your name is the same on all elements of your application. Double-check that all documents you're submitting are correct.

Submit and save

Print and save the completed application before you send it and keep a copy for your files. And remember: only submit it once -- either online or via mail.

Use a fee waiver

If you used an SAT or ACT fee waiver, you are automatically eligible for application fee waivers to over 2,000 colleges.

Ask for help

Ask your counselor, teachers, or parents to review your application, essays, and other materials before you submit them. Request a letter of recommendation at least two weeks before your deadline and provide supporting material to help them write the best one for you.

Set a schedule

Allow for time to get your requirements together, get input from your counselor or other adults, review them as a whole, and revise as needed. Keep a close eye on the application deadline, along with other deadlines for financial aid and scholarships. Do NOT procrastinate!
Use this form to provide teachers, coaches, counselor, employers, etc. with information about yourself so that they can provide you with the best Letter of Recommendation possible.
Here is a guide to help plan your next college visit. Included are common questions to ask while on your campus visit.

Tips For Letters of Recommendation

Tips for Letters of Recommendation
Whether it is required for a college application or a scholarship opportunity, a letter of recommendation plays a crucial role in painting the complete picture of YOU. While grades, entrance exam results, and extracurricular activities all describe the type of student you are, the letter showcases your accomplishments, personal attributes and skills.
When to ask?
  • The earlier the better!
  • One month before your earliest application deadline, especially when asking a teacher or counselor who might be writing many letters.
Whom to ask?
  • If you're considering a specific major, you might consider getting a recommendation from a teacher of a related subject.
  • If it can be any teacher, core subject teachers, such as your English, math, science, or social studies teachers, make good candidates.
  • It is recommended to ask someone from your junior year or a current teacher. It is best not to go back too far, as colleges want current perspectives on their potential candidates.
How to ask?
  • Ask in a way that allows a teacher to decline comfortably if he or she does not have time to do a good job. For example, "Do you feel you know me well enough, and have enough time, to write a letter of recommendation for me?"

The College Essay

The College Essay

The college essay is your chance to use your voice to add to your college application. Many colleges require the essay as a way to hear from the student directly and to get a sense of who you are in your own words. It's a great opportunity to personalize your application beyond the grades, scores, and other information you've provided and can make a difference at decision time.

EIGHT KEY POINTS Admission Officers look for:

  1. A command of the basics of good writing
  2. A direct answer to the essay question
  3. A strong opening paragraph that captures the reader's interest
  4. A comprehensive argument or narrative -- make your point and stick to it
  5. A style that is comfortable for you and that is appropriate for the subject matter
  6. Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
  7. Correct data -- check your facts, dates and names
  8. Succinctness -- pay attention to the recommended length

Make It Personal:

Often you will be asked to write about a personal experience, an achievement, or a person who has been significant to you. Go beyond the what or the who and dig into the how and why. If you write about a trip or event, describe how this experience affected you and is meaningful to you. If you are writing about a person in your life, be personal and specific, not just sentimental. Explain how or what this person did for you that is important.

Things To Keep In Mind:

Revise, revise, revise! Show, don't tell. Be authentic. Just get started!

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