You need to prepare a strong application if you’re serious about pursuing higher education. Now, many similar articles will tell you to focus on your academics to maintain a high GPA. And it’s true that you should. But since you’re serious about getting into college, you already know that.
Instead, this article will focus on the ways that you can prepare yourself for college applications. Many young applicants focus so much on their academic standing that they neglect their own aspirations. Or they don’t even know what those aspirations are in the first place. Sometimes orienting yourself before beginning the application process can be the hardest part.
So if you’ve had the Ivy League universities ranked from first to last for years, this article is not for you. If you’re certain you want to go to college but aren’t exactly sure how to approach applications, read on. Here are four ways you can start preparing today.
1. Seek Guidance
If you have absolutely no idea where to start, you’re in luck. Because there are people whose job it is to help you do just that. College counselors assist students by giving them the lay of the college landscape so they can navigate it more effectively. They’ll guide you toward colleges best suited to your needs, aspirations, and even geographic preferences.
Chances are, your school already has a guidance counselor who’s ready and willing to work with you. However, if you really want to make the most of this process, get in touch with a college admissions consultant like this one. Such consultants can point you in the right direction and assist you in crafting an excellent college application.
The best will help you develop your skill sets and broaden your experiences so you can better understand what you’re looking for. And with their in-depth knowledge of what colleges are looking for in return, you’ll increase your chances of landing your dream school.
2. Have Meaningful Experiences
No matter what your age, meaningful experiences will deepen your character and broaden your horizons. Now, what’s meaningful to you won’t necessarily be meaningful to someone else, and that’s the point.
By experiencing meaning, you come to understand what’s important to you in life and what isn’t. Through a better understanding of what you want, you can better choose a major to pursue and colleges to apply to.
Say, for example, you volunteer at a homeless shelter and deeply connect with the people and the work. You learn that you want to support struggling people, so you decide to major in sociology. Alternatively, you take a trip to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and, excited by the hubbub, decide to major in finance. Remember that most colleges have better programs for certain majors than others. So if you know what subject you want to major in, it will help you develop a short list of colleges to apply to.
3. Attend College Fairs and Admissions Events
Knowing what you want to study will help narrow your options, but there are still choices to make. To facilitate the making of those choices, visit the places you’re thinking about applying. There’s a reason the college visit trip has become a rite of passage for so many U.S. teens.
Visiting a school in person gives you a better sense of whether or not you can envision yourself there. While on campus, you can talk directly to admissions staff and current students, who can answer your questions better than a webpage.
Of course, these college visits can be costly. If taking such a trip doesn’t make sense now, there’s a good alternative. College fairs and admissions events are the perfect place to investigate lots of potential schools on the same day.
At these events, colleges and universities send admissions representatives to chat with potential students about the benefits of choosing their institution. Take the opportunity to speak to these admissions reps to get your remaining questions answered.
4. Research Financial Aid and Scholarships
With the average total cost of college in America around $37,000 per year, attending is no small decision. That’s why it’s important to be honest with yourself about you and your family’s financial situation. Student debt is a serious burden to take on and can take decades to repay. So while it would be nice to go to an expensive college with more degree programs and amenities, you need to be realistic. Remember that most colleges also have an application fee of up to $100 each.
That said, most colleges also offer some form of financial aid, which enables students to attend institutions they couldn’t otherwise afford to. In fact, some of the most expensive colleges can afford to offer the most generous aid. Additionally, you could pursue scholarships from organizations independent of your chosen college.
So do the research ahead of time to explore various offerings from different institutions and scholarship-granting organizations. Knowing whether or not you can afford an option you’re considering can help winnow your selections further. Be honest about your situation to increase the chances you can improve it by responsibly attending the right college for you.
Understand Yourself to Pursue Your Dreams
Preparing for college applications isn’t all about maintaining a high GPA. It’s also about understanding what you want out of life — and thus your college experience. College is a place that can provide you with the skills and experiences to build the future of your dreams. So make the most of it by applying to the institutions that will actually help you make those dreams a reality.