Planning for, and applying to college is a major effort. Your goal should be to identify and gain admission to schools with the right college fit for you. Your goal may also include a financial aid package or scholarship. Competition is strong and the process is time consuming and challenging. Not only is the experience brand new, it’s also extremely important. But, there’s no need to go at it alone.
You can benefit from the support and advice of people you know and trust. Businesses and organizations routinely consult with directors and advisors for advice and ideas. They solicit people with experience, thoughtful reasoning skills, sound judgment and specific expertise to be available to help when needed. You should do the same. Just remember, you are the captain and quarterback. You are the one responsible for building your college admissions team and keeping everybody (including yourself) motivated, on task and focused on the goal!
Your guidance counselor should be a key member of your team. It’s not unusual for counselors, especially at public schools, to be extremely busy. It’s your job as the captain to get the attention you need. Make good use of the counselor’s time and be appreciative. Try to cultivate a relationship where the counselor feels a genuine interest in your success. Sit down with your counselor and map out a game plan and a timetable. Bring your college planning notebook and take good notes. Ask specific questions about colleges, entrance exams and the admissions process. Solicit advice. Remember to keep your appointments and make a positive impression – counselors write recommendations!
If you are not happy with your school counselor, see if there are better alternatives. If this is the case, confidentially discuss your concerns and situation with the head of guidance or school principal. Private counselors are another option if you are seeking more personalized attention. See the InLikeMe section on Private College Admissions Counselors.
Friends & Family
Friends and family members typically have the greatest interest in your success. Depending on their skills, experiences and connections, they can assist you in a variety of activities such as career guidance, selecting and visiting schools, staying organized, keeping on track, brainstorming ideas for essays, practicing for interviews, proofreading essays and applications and being there for emotional support.
Older siblings, friends and relatives who are college students or recent graduates are excellent resources. They can provide information and advice and introduce you to people they know who can help you too. Once again it is important to stay focused on the goal and remember that you are the team captain and quarterback. Keep in mind that a “good fit” school for your brother or mother may not be a “good fit” school for you.
Teachers, Coaches, Employers, Club Advisors, Volunteer Activity Leaders
Coaches, Employers, Club Advisors, Teachers and Volunteer Activity Leaders can be excellent mentors and advisors as well as your best source for references. Nurture these relationships. They can speak positively about you, your passions, personality, potential and accomplishments. It’s critical that these people know you well (i.e. leadership roles or multiple-year involvement is really important).
It might be useful to find an alumni network in your local area; contact the president or the secretary if possible. If there isn’t one, consider contacting the college alumni office to see if they can give you contact information for alumni in your area that would be willing to speak with you as a high school student interested in their school. Local alumni can provide great information and may also be willing to go to bat for you, if you are really committed to their school.
You are the applicant. You are the team captain and quarterback. You are responsible for selecting colleges that are the “right fit” for you. You are responsible for completing your applications and making the decision on which college to attend. The team is there for support, advice and assistance. You are the person responsible for building the team and keeping everybody (including yourself) motivated, on task and focused on achieving the goal!
Author: Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.
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