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It’s College Application Time

December 1, 2008 07:28 PM

By Dede Allen

You’re a senior and some of your friends have already started applying to college, but you haven’t.  Don’t worry; it’s not too late to get started with the application process.

Understanding the admission process may help relieve some of the stress you and your parents will feel during your senior year.  Hopefully, you at least started some of the prerequisite work.  The college application process is much like applying for job.  You need to emphasize the positive – although, you needn’t present yourself as a perfect student.  Your goal is to find the right fit for you, not your parents or your friends.

The most important thing you can do through the whole process is make sure that you keep track of ALL application and financial aid deadlines.  Each school has their own timeline, so use the chart I have in my College Guide.

Timeline for application/decision process:

Junior year – (very basic)
• Attend college fairs at in your area.  If there isn’t one being held at your school, try to find one that is being held in your county. 
• Start making a list of schools that may be of interest to you, during the year you may add to or delete from that list. Start researching

Senior year
Colleges have different kinds of applications, some use online, several use a common application– each school looks for different things on an application.  What do colleges look for from a prospective student?  Yes, they look at your GPA, Class Rank and SAT/ACT scores, but that’s only a start.

Admissions Offices will also take into consideration the following:

Grades – most schools have a minimum GPA.  As a prospective student- athlete the NCAA sets GPA and Test Scores standards on a sliding scale.

Test scores – you don’t need perfect test scores, but if you are looking to get some scholarship aid, your scores should be at the high end of a particular school’s requirements.

Course of Study – whether or not you’ve pushed yourself to take a challenging schedule

Extracurricular Activities – as a student-athlete, you’ve already added this to your resume.  However; tennis isn’t the only activity – schools look for community service hours.  If your high school doesn’t require it for graduation, it would behoove you to start earning some of these hours as soon as you can.

Letters of recommendation – these are a key component of your portfolio, so make sure that you ask people who know you pretty well.   Admission officers want to get an idea of what others think of you, be it your guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, your coach, etc.  Make sure you give the people you choose to do this plenty of time to write one.  Don’t walk up and let me know you need it tomorrow – bad idea.  Thank them for taking time out of their busy lives to do this for you.

Interview – although interviews are not required, they are highly recommended.  Just because the tennis coach may know who you are, it’s the admissions office that makes the final decision.  There is a good book “Campus Visits and College Interviews”, by Zola Dincin Schneider, that I recommend in your are concerned about this.

Application Essay – each college places a very different importance on the essay.  For some smaller schools it can be the number one criteria.  Large universities get thousands of applications a year and therefore essays may be a bit further down their priority list.  You may want to ask the admissions department how much emphasis is placed on the essay. I recommend a book by Sarah Myers McGinty, “The College Application Essay” to help you through this important part of college application process.

 If you have specific questions for Dede, please email her at dede@ddasports.com. She will be happy to answer questions, which may appear in her next month’s column!

 

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