10 Steps to a Successful College . . .
. . . Selection
- Determine the type of college you want to attend:
Small, large, private public, commuter, residential, liberal arts, technical 2-year, 4-year, etc. Think about the environment and class size with which you are most comfortable.
- Decide how far from home you are willing to travel:
Home on a regular basis or only once or twice per year? Can you afford to fly to and from the college? Is being in a warm climate as important as attending the best college for your academic interests?
- Have an honest discussion with your parents: Are your expectations and theirs the same? How much money will they be able to contribute to your education Will they be visiting colleges with you?
- Consider your academic and extracurricular interests:
Do you know what major you wish to study? (Many students do not---so don’t panic.) Is it important to you to play a specific sport, be involved in a theatre group, write for a college yearbook, etc.? Make a list of areas of interest that are important to you.
- Research, research, research:
Attend college fairs, do internet and college catalog research, talk to friends, alumni, counselors, neighbors, etc. Develop a list of colleges that meet your criteria. Narrow that list to 3-6 colleges.
- Request Additional Information on Your short list of colleges:
Get catalogs, look at WEB sites, collect applications and financial aid brochures, etc. Review admission criteria, program availability, support services, extracurricular activities and identify colleges to visit and/or to submit applications.
- Schedule college visits and interviews:
Several weeks in advance contact colleges to make appointments to visit or attend an open house program. Schedule a tour and visit with all appropriate offices, i.e., admissions, financial aid, special academic services, coaches, academic departments, etc. Confirm your appointments prior to your visit.
- Be Prepared for your interview:
Learn all that you can about the college and create a list of questions to ask interviewers. Take an unofficial transcript, list of your extracurricular activities and test scores with you to the interview to help determine your eligibility. Dress appropriately, e on time, get the name, address and phone number of those you meet with so you can write thank you notes. Make notes about what you liked and didn’t like about the visit and college. Be sure to tour the local community as well as the campus.
- Complete Admission applications and financial aid/scholarship forms by required deadlines:
It is essential that you identify application deadlines and meet them. The earlier you apply for admission and financial aid the better. Remember that your student services personnel are very busy and may take weeks to complete your application before it is mailed.
- Assess your admission offers and select the college you will attend:
Evaluate your admission offers, financial aid packages and how well each college meets the criteria you have established. Contact colleges to ask any unanswered questions. Identify the institution you plan to attend and make the appropriate deposits by the required deadline.
. . . Interview
- Select the colleges you wish to visit:
Try to narrow your list to 4-5 colleges you plan to visit based on the following criteria: large, small, two-year, four-year, distance from home, private, public, etc. Doing extensive research about each college as you compile your list could prevent visits to colleges that aren’t right for you.
- Decide Whom You Want to Meet when you visit a campus:
By meeting as many people as possible while on campus, you will have a better understanding of the college and what it has to offer. Some people to see are: admissions staff, financial aid officers, academic depts. Coaches, performing arts coordinators, etc. Be sure to include students on your list.
- Schedule your appointments:
Make arrangements to meet with people in each office and/or dept. you wish to speak with while visiting campus. You may not be able to see a person without prior arrangements. Confirm your appointments and where they are located 1-3 days before your visit. Don’t forget to request a tour, eat on campus and arrange time to meet current students.
- Compile your Credentials:
Gather together an unofficial transcript and ACT and/or SAT scores from your high school student services office, information about all your activities and/or work experiences, a list of honors and awards you have received, etc. Be sure to take these items with you.
- Create a list of questions:
It’s easy to forget what you want to ask when you are in an interview. A list of questions makes you appear more organized, well prepared for your meeting and you won’t forget what issues are most important to you. Remember to take a pen and paper to make notes during your interviews.
- Know proper etiquette
To make a good impression—be on time, dress appropriately, use a good firm handshake, address people in a respectful manner, thank people for their time, etc. The impression you make my help your application.
- Be Yourself:
Remember that you want to attend a college that will fit your personality. Let the people you meet get to know the real you so they can make an honest evaluation of you and you can see how you really fit.
- Collect names and addresses:
Be sure to get the correct names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc. of the important people you meet. You can write them down or collect business cards if they are available.
- Record Your Impressions of the college:
Remember you are also interviewing the college to see if it meets your needs. So, as soon as your visit is complete, take a few minutes to record what you liked and/or disliked about the college, its environment, faculty, extracurricular activities, etc. Use these notes to compare colleges you visit.
- Send Thank You Notes:
People truly appreciate being thanked for the time and services they provide. A courteous thank you note to each person you met reminds them of your visit, leaves a positive impression and may even help you be admitted to the college of your choice.