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The College Search Process
Preparing for college is a major task. The process is ongoing and my goal is to be sure you know what you need to know about college preparation and that your journey is successful. I've covered a general timeline of the process on the College Search Page. Below are a few additional things that I felt needed to be elaborated on.
AXS Companion: This is a free site that literally walks you thru every single step of the college application process as it pertains to the Common Application, which is the most common way to apply. Click here to start your application....
Letters of Recommendation:College applications and some scholarships will require you to submit letters or recommendation (LOR) to support your application. Letters of recommendations can come from teachers, your counselor, employers, or other community members. Be sure to give careful consideration to whom you ask for a LOR. The person you select to write a LOR should be someone who knows you well and can write a compelling letter for you. It is your responsibility to allow plenty of time for LOR's to be written and sent. A solid month before your deadline is a good time frame to allow.
Provide your LOR writer the following...
A resume with your full name, expected academic major, graduation diploma type, student activity involvement, community service, awards, and work experience.
Hard Copy Recommendations: Complete college name and address where the letter should be mailed or an envelope that the recommender can return to the guidance office that is signed and sealed.
Digital Recommendations: be sure to ask for your recommenders' correct email address. Follow up after you have entered the email address into the Common Application or SUNYapp. You want to be certain the recommender received the email. It is not uncommon for the emails to end up in people's spam or email trash.
The due date for the application and letter
One week prior to your due date be sure to contact the college and confirm your application is complete, including any recommendations.
School Counselor Recommendation
Most colleges will require your School Counselor to submit a recommendation. Students are provided a "Student and Parent Brag Sheet" during the Senior Seminar. These allow your School Counselor to reflect the areas you wish to highlight in your applications. Students applying regular decision should at a minimum follow to the generally expected month recommendation request guideline with the School Counselor. However, early decision and early action candidates (deadlines before December 1st) really need to notify the School Counselor by September 15th.
Your college essay is your opportunity to tell the college you are applying to a little bit more about yourself. Writing your college essay can be difficult to decide what to write about. There is no right or wrong essay topic. Some applications will provide you with several essay topics to choose from, others will not. Not only is the content of your essay important to the college professional reviewing your application, but it also conveys to them your writing skills so be sure to proof read your essay and have someone else look over it for you. You should also create a "generic" essay, and a "specific" essay, and be sure you don't send a specific essay saying why you want to attend college A, and send the letter to college B! Here are some links to show you what good college essays look like...
Art and Music Majors
Keep in mind that Art and Music majors may have special requirements. Be sure to speak to the schools you are looking at to see when they review portfolios or host auditions.
Art students, in particular, can have their work reviewed by a lot of schools on a portfolio day. https://nationalportfolioday.org/
General Information: https://www.todaysmilitary.com/education-training/military-schools
Application and Fee WaiversMany colleges charge a fee for processing your application. Most of these fees range from $35-$50. If you are applying to several colleges, that can add up.
If you received a fee waiver for the SAT, you may be eligible for application fee waivers from some colleges. As your counselor, I know that colleges want to hear about promising students and do not want the cost of the application to stand in the way of you applying. If you think you may be eligible for an application fee waiver, ask your School Counselor to help you explore your options. There are fee waivers for the SUNYapp and the Common Application. Those wanting to apply for a fee waiver for either of these applications, please print the appropriate form below and bring it to your school counselor. The SUNY waiver is shared with students in the "Senior Seminar" Google Drive folder.
Early Action vs. Early Decision
The quick explanation is...
"Early Action" is non-binding and the college acts on your application quicker than normal. These open between early and late fall.
"Early Decision" is binding and once accepted you are committed to attending that school and must notify all other colleges you are withdrawing your application. As a general rule, I don't recommend this type of early application unless students have done a great deal of research, numerous campus visits and don't have a huge financial need.
Click Here for a more in depth explanation of many of the nuances in determining if either "early" option is right for you. Note the resources and timelines at the bottom of the page.
Any student planning to apply early action or decision needs to notify the School Counseling office by mid September if they plan to go this route because essentially all the normal deadlines move up about two months.