10 Tips Every NCHS Senior Should Know About The College Process


Dear Rising High School Seniors,

It’s August. The Common Application opened about two weeks ago and it’s most likely the last thing that rising high school seniors want to have to worry about.

Having gone through the process last year, I understand what it’s like to have your parents nagging you about getting your applications Common-Application-Logofinished, teachers and guidance counselors reminding you of certain deadlines, and friends gossiping about what school everyone wants to go to. Although the process may not seem so easy the summer before the application craze begins, there are many tips that I have that can make the college process much easier.

1. The Essays On Every Single Application Are Very Important

When you open up the Common App online, first of all, make sure to read all of the questions that are assigned and think about what relates best to you. You can’t look at the Common App as a school assignment that you can quickly finish. It means more than that. Not to put too much pressure on it, but your application and high school grades are what determine your future education. It is important that the standard Common App essay is read and corrected over and over again. Don’t just read it with yourself: Share your work with your parents, siblings, guidance counselors and even ask a teacher to seek their advice and feedback on your essay.

Some colleges on the Common App like to be tricky, too, by adding in supplement essays. When you decide what colleges you want to apply to, read through the whole application to make sure that you don’t miss anything. Sometimes these supplement essays are hidden and the last thing you want is to find an essay the day before the application is due and scramble to have to write it.

Although, at this time, the supplement essays may not be at the top of your to-do list, it is important that once you get to them that you write each of these individual essays as if the school you are applying to is your number one school. Remember that these college admissions counselors are professionals at their job and they will be able to easily tell how much effort an applicant put into an essay.

Also, not all colleges are on the Common App, so double-check where each of your schools have their application.

2. Meet With Your Guidance Counselor. They Are Actually Very Helpful!

The guidance counselors and those in the College and Career Center at New Canaan High School will become some of the most helpful people during the college process. It is important that when you sit down with your guidance counselor that you let them know what type of school you are interested: big or small, north or south, in the city or the middle of nowhere. Be honest and get to know them if you don’t already, because they will be writing a recommendation for you.

Don’t come up with excuses not to go in and talk to them. Personally my guidance counselor, Lori Keen, helped me figure out that I wanted to apply early decision to my school and I couldn’t be happier.

3. Visit The Schools

It is important that you visit and take tours of the colleges that you want to apply to, to get a sense of what the environment and students at the school are like. It will also help you narrow down what type of college you want to attend. On the tours, ask questions, visit the dining halls, and try to sit on a class if you can. I recommend visiting during the school year if you haven’t already when all of the students are on campus to feel the college’s vibe. If you are narrowing your list and are unsure about a school, take advantage of New Canaan High School Alumni. If an NCHS Alumni attends the school, see if you could meet up with them to get another student’s view.

Although speaking to students is very important, also try to schedule an interview with an Admissions counselor if you can. Not all schools, especially the bigger ones, have them, but if they do you should take advantage of them. Sometimes representative from the colleges will come to the Fairfield County area to interview, but other times you must interview on campus so check the details of all of your colleges so that you won’t be making the trip twice.

4. Don’t Choose the School Because All Of Your Friends Want To Go There

Throughout the beginning of senior year, the only thing that is going to be on your classmates’ minds is college. Everyone is going to want to know where everyone else is applying and everyone is stressed. But through all of the stress it’s important to stay calm and choose where you want to apply. Don’t apply where your friends want to apply.

Remember that all of your classmates have different levels of academic ability and prefer different types of schools. Don’t say things such as “that’s a bad school” or “I didn’t like that school” because that could have an effect on other students around you. Remember that every school is a good school and each one of your classmates will find his or her place.   CommonApp2015

5. Take Advantage of Early Decision and Early Action

If your heart is set on your dream school, apply Early Decision. With this binding contract (stating that you will attend the school if you are accepted), you will most likely have a better chance of being accepted. You will also find out sooner whether or not you will have to continue to fill out applications.

Remember that Early Decision isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t ready to commit to a single school, applying Early Action to all of the schools that offer it is your best bet. Although you have to get your applications in around Nov. 1 as opposed to the regular decision Jan. 1 deadline, it is nice knowing the outcomes of schools, especially if you are accepted.

6. First Semester of Senior Year Counts (And It’s Hard!)

All colleges will look at your senior year grades, but the first semester ones will play an important role in your admissions decision. Even if you decide to apply Early Decision, colleges may look at your grades to determine whether or not they will accept you so make sure to try your best.

7. Don’t Set Your Heart On One School

If you take a tour of a school, fall in love with it, and decide to apply Early Decision, that’s great! But do not put all of your focus on that school. You should keep your eyes open to all schools because if you get unlucky in the application process you will have other schools to turn to. Figure out what you like about your favorite school and talk to your guidance counselor and research what schools are similar to it.

8. Reaches, Targets and Safeties

Don’t apply to every college in America. You won’t have a better chance of getting into schools the more you apply to and you won’t have time to apply to all of them. Anywhere between six and 10 is a good number of schools to apply to, but when you start to narrow down your list it is important you divide your list into three categories: reaches, targets, and safeties. You don’t want to apply to five reaches and two target and no safeties. Instead, it is best to evenly divide your schools into these categories realistically so that you know that you will get into a college.

9. Make Your Application Stand Out

When you decide on which schools you will be applying to, try to make your application the best it can possibly be. If you have a passion for community service, are captain of a sports team, or have a job that you do after school, make it clear to the reader of the application. Don’t write down nonsense to fill up your application. Colleges don’t care that you went to one Spanish club meeting all of high school, but they will care that you were a part of the TV Broadcasting announcements every Friday morning. They want to see who you are and what you are dedicated to doing as a person.

10. Take Advantage Of The Revisit Days

Although it may seem far away, you will be getting acceptance letter from colleges before you know it. Take advantage of the revisit days and meet ups around the area to get a sense of what each of the colleges that you are accepted to are all about. Choosing a college can be a tough decision so it’s best to take advantage of all of the opportunities that you are given.

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