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Applying to College? Rushing Through Applications is Not Recommended

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Even though it’s technically still the summer, the 2010-11 academic year will begin at most schools sometime during the next two weeks. Students entering their senior year of high school will be full of excitement knowing that they’ve arrived at “the beginning of the end,” but it’s not the time for them to slack off! Seniors that are applying to college will find themselves busy with the application process, but with proper planning and preparation there should be nothing to worry about.

Visit Potential Colleges before Your Senior Year

The College Board, the not-for-profit membership organization comprised of over 5,700 colleges and universities that is best known for the SAT test and Advanced Placement programs, suggests that high school students visit potential colleges during the summer before their senior year. Guided campus tours are a good idea, but having a face-to-face interview with an admissions representative may provide some unknown information about the school. You can even request an application to know what information will be expected of you and get an idea about application essays.

Touring the colleges that interest you and speaking with their admissions officers should help narrow down your choices when the time arrives to fill out college applications. It can also help you save money—colleges charge application fees that are usually between twenty-five and fifty dollars.

Fees can add up quickly if you are applying to several schools. (Most colleges offer application fee waivers to students whose families meet certain financial requirements, so check into that if you think you may qualify.) Keep in mind that your high school may also charge a fee for each copy of your transcript that they have to send out, and if you’re applying to several different colleges and universities the transcript fees can add up, too.

Schedule the SAT and ACT if Necessary

If you took the SAT or ACT during your junior year but weren’t pleased with your scores, you can retake the tests during the fall of your senior year. Be sure to find out the deadlines for each and register early so you don’t miss out on your final opportunity to possibly improve your scores.

Colleges and universities will see all of your scores, but if you studied over the summer and are well-prepared to retake the tests, the improved scores may help increase your odds of being accepted at some colleges.

Applying to Colleges

If you have your heart set on attending a local community college in order to cut costs, you probably shouldn’t waste money applying to multiple schools. However, if you visited a few different schools during the summer and narrowed down your options, the College Board’s website offers some advice about the application process.

  • The College Board recommends applying to one or two colleges that you feel very confident you will be accepted. Think of these schools as your “safeties.”
  • You should also apply to two to four other colleges that are “good matches,” meaning you have around a seventy-five percent chance of getting in and they are colleges that fit your academic and social needs.
  • You may also want to apply to one or two “reach” colleges that you have a lower chance of getting accepted to attend, such as an elite school that admits only a small percentage of all applicants.

It’s a wise idea to only apply to colleges that you would honestly attend should you be accepted. In addition to the costs associated with application fees and transcripts, you might even inadvertently take away a spot from a student that really wants to attend a school you only have mixed feelings about.

Rushing to Submit College Applications is Not Recommended

Although it’s important to stay on schedule as application deadlines approach, rushing to fill out college applications is not recommended. This year’s Common Application, a basic college application accepted by over four hundred colleges and universities across the country in lieu of their own application, was available on the internet several weeks earlier than it was in the past.

Rob Killion, the executive director of the Common Application, told the New York Times that he was “particularly unnerved by the flood of early submissions through the Common Application website because he feared that students were rushing their essays.”

An incoming high school senior from Texas, Cree Bautista, was profiled in the Times for being the first person in the United States to submit a Common Application to any school that accepts it for the class of 2015. Cree sent his application to New York University, a selective school that he has never even visited.

Shawn Abbott, who works in undergraduate admissions at NYU, told the Times that the school will not even download students’ applications for at least another month. He also said that he hoped students would wait to submit applications until they’ve actually started their senior years so they can let colleges know how things are going so far.

Mr. Abbott’s advice to students rushing to fill out college applications?

“It’s not a horse race.”

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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