This is the week! High school seniors who applied “regular decision” have received notification regarding their college acceptances. They are in the final phase of their secondary career, as long as they heed the fine print on the acceptance letters. Their enrollment as college freshmen is contingent upon successful completion of their senior year courses.
Last weekend I attended a panel discussion in New York sponsored by CBS radio, during which one of the panelists recounted the sad tale of a student who, after sending in his college acceptance and registration fee, decided that his high school career was over: He therefore did no academic work for the remainder of the school year, and he consequently failed his courses. After receiving his final transcript, the university contacted him to rescind the invitation.
Now it’s time for the juniors to begin the year-long application process. The panelists, who included admissions officers from a cross section of colleges and universities in the tri-state area, provided information regarding the process of college application as well as statistics on college selection rates. For example, Boston University had more than 53,000 applicants this year; they accepted about 18,000 or 35%. The same acceptance rate applied to New York University. The good news is that most colleges and universities have higher selection percentages. Of course, “the Ivies” have much lower acceptance rates: 8-10%.
The panelists maintained that organization is a key factor for successful completion of the process. Dr. Steve Kussin, a professor at Hofstra as well as the CBS education reporter, presented ten steps for students and their families that can ease the process. Students as young as middle school age attended this event, so the message is clear: Preparation is essential. The first step can take place informally and early. The subsequent steps are intended for current high school juniors.
1. Visit campuses. The experts stressed the importance of
“on-campus” visits. These can be informal on any family vacation for students as young as middle school. Get a feel for the location and student body. Complete these visitations BEFORE senior year.
2. Have a family discussion regarding affordability of selected colleges, and then finalize college choices. Have three divisions-safe, target, reach schools. Eight to ten applications appear to be the average.
3. Keep a timeline. By senior year, the work really begins!
4. Work on essays. The college representatives explained that admissions offices take these VERY seriously. My advice: Summer prior to senior year is optimal for this step!
5. In fall of senior year-Work on applications.
6. Take tests–either ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests
7. Arrange interviews. Larger universities do not provide these.
8. Acquire recommendations from willing teachers.
9. Pursue all forms of financial aid.
10. Keep up grades.