Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category
It’s deadline time for Early Decision (ED) applications to college. Early Decision is a college admissions process in which high schools students send their application to their preferred college “early” (usually in November) and receive a decision from the college by December. If you know without question which college you want to attend, the Early Decision process might be for you. Consider these additional benefits of an Early Decision application:
Students accepted through Early Decision can stop stressing about getting into college well before their peers who apply through the traditional process. They will be free to focus on other things for the rest of senior year.
Improves your chance of getting accepted.
Keep in mind the school’s standards and the overall strength of your application are important factors in whether you get accepted- regardless if you choose Early Decision or apply though the traditional process. However, if you apply early you may have a better chance of getting into your college of choice. Typically, early admission rates are higher than regular or overall admission rates for most schools. At some schools, the admission rate can be substantially better for early admission candidates. In fact, of the students who applied early to the University of Pennsylvania, nearly 25 percent were accepted, compared to only 9 percent who were admitted through the regular application process. Currently, about 450 colleges offer some sort of early admission program.
Time to explore other options if you don’t get in.
There’s no doubt you’ll be disappointed if you don’t get accepted into your top-choice school. But the good news is you’ll be left with plenty of time to apply to other schools or explore additional academic or career options. Before you apply via Early Decision, it’s a good idea to create an action plan that outlines what you’ll do if you don’t get in. That way you won’t waste any time getting back on track should you be denied or deferred.
Start becoming familiar with your new school.
Of course you need to keep focused on finishing up your high school studies, but one of the most exciting aspects of Early Decision is that you can start getting acquainted with your college months before you arrive. Whether it’s through social media, a summer internship or an informal chat session with other incoming freshman, you can start to feel like you fit in long before you step on campus. Consider learning about what clubs, sports and special events your college offers and which ones you might want to take part in. You may even have the chance to get advice from upperclassman and ask them questions about campus life. In addition to having more time to get familiar with your school, early admission could improve your chances of landing premium student housing and the most desired on-campus job. Finally, when it comes time to create your class schedule, you may have a better chance of getting the classes you want at the times that suits you best.
Understand early decision policies thoroughly before applying.
As we’ve pointed out, if you know what college you want to attend and you have your academic materials ready, applying early to college offers a slew of advantages. Also, it’s very important to note that early decision applications differ from other accelerated admissions processes in that they are binding. That means the application serves as a contract of sorts and you must enroll in that school if you’re accepted. Also, you can only enroll in one early decision school. But keep in mind that early decision policies vary from school and school, so you need to find out exactly what you’re agreeing to before you click the send button.
Deciding where to go to college is a major decision with life-long implications. It’s important to do your homework and learn all you can about the schools you’re considering. Tour your most desired schools, chat with current students and decide whether the schools are a good fit for your personal and academic needs. Then narrow down your list to your top choice, and if you’re confident you want to be a member of the next freshman class, don’t wait – apply early.
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Visiting the campus of a school you’re interested in attending is a great way to help you decide if the school is a good fit for you. You can find a ton of information on college websites and admissions materials, so when talking with a current student, such as a campus tour guide, stick to questions that only a student can answer. Here are a few questions that will give you valuable answers.
1. How often do you go home?
Find out how often students go home—especially if you are going far away for school. Some regional colleges and universities clear out on the weekends as students living nearby head home. If you’re not heavily involved in athletics or another time-consuming activity, your weekends could get pretty lonely if you’re the only one around.
2. How often do you go to the dining hall?
You know you’re curious, go ahead and ask how the food is. The dining hall is the social center of campus at some schools, others have so many options that students will typically eat on their own and switch up their routines regularly. Discussing dining with a student will give you an idea of what a typical day on campus is like.
3. What other schools did you apply to?
Ask current students what other colleges they applied to and why they ended up choosing this particular school. They may have applied to some of the schools that you are considering. Hearing why they chose this school over others may help you when the time comes for you to make the same decision.
4. How many hours do you spend studying a week?
The average amount of time students spend on class work varies among colleges and universities. Also, schedules and workloads will vary among programs and majors within the same school. A current student will probably be able to give you insight on what you can expect from the program you’re interested in, or at least point you in the right direction.
5. How often do you go off campus?
Is it easy to get off campus? Is it common? Students at some schools, especially when they are freshmen, rarely go off campus. Others see the surrounding community as an extension of campus and can even use their meal plans at select off-campus restaurants and stores.
6. What is dorm life like?
If you’re planning to live in on-campus student housing, dorm life will be a very important aspect of your college experience and you’ll definitely want to get a student’s perspective on it. Find out if all the dorms are pretty much the same, or if the atmosphere in each is unique. Will you get to choose your roommate or dorm, or does that have to be assigned? If the school offers overnight stays with a student host, take advantage of the opportunity to get a feel for what life in the dorms is like.image credit: ivywise.com
Letters of recommendation. The elusive cousin of resumes and cover letters. While they’re not always invited to the party, they are generally welcomed as a nice surprise when they show up. They convey—possibly more than anything else—your work ethic. It’s important that your recommendation letters evolve as you take each new step in your academic and professional career.
Who to Ask
Letters of recommendation are required for many college and scholarship applications and many volunteering opportunities. Think about the position or institution you are applying for and select letter writers that know your character and skillset the best. Some of those people may include:
- Teacher: A teacher you’ve had at least a class or two with will be able to speak to your general work ethic, personality, determination, and willingness to go the extra mile. They are a good person to ask to write about your history of academic achievements.
- Volunteering coordinator: Do you have previous experience volunteering? If you worked closely with a supervisor or volunteer coordinator during your experience, they would be a perfect candidate to write about your willingness to help and your dedication to a specific community.
- Employer: Juggling a part-time job with school, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering says a lot about your ability to balance multiple things at once. Your employer will be able to talk about your punctuality, your enthusiasm to succeed, and how well you work with a team.
Recommendation letters are going to be important for three main things: internships, graduate programs, and your first out-of-school job. Even if a letter of recommendation isn’t specifically asked for, it is not a bad idea to have a few written up on your behalf to bring them with you to interviews. Not only does it show that you are a person worth vouching for, but it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.
- Academic advisor: Most colleges require each student to have an academic advisor. This is someone that should know your academic history as well as your passion for your field. Encourage them to write about your thirst for knowledge and excitement learn new things.
- Internship supervisor: A supervisor from a previous internship is the best person to recommend you for your next internship. If you implemented any changes or created a project during your internship, ask your supervisor to mention that process and how it helped their business.
- Mentor: If you’ve found a mentor in college, you should absolutely ask them to write you a letter of recommendation. Depending on your relationship, this is someone who will know what kind of work and activities you’ve been involved in, what you want to do in the future, and who can speak to what you’re capable of—chances are it’s a lot!
How to Ask
Writing a good letter of recommendation is no easy task. Once you decide who you want to ask, you need to take into account their schedule, how well they know you, and what they are best suited to write about. Follow these tips for a smooth process.
- Be courteous: Writing one of these letters takes time. Make sure you ask if they’d be willing to write the letter at least a month before you need it. This gives plenty of time for them to come back to you with questions and work through multiple drafts. It also gives you time to find someone new if for some reason they say no or have to back out. It is your responsibility to let them know upfront of any deadlines or special requirements for the letter.
- Be helpful: In order to write a great letter, your references will need details. Make sure to supply letter writers with a copy of your resume and cover letter, as well as the position description if the letter is going to be for something specific. You should let your writer know if you want them to mention specific pieces of information. It’s important to let them feel free to write their true opinions, but it’s never a bad thing to tell them why you are asking them to write the letter and what you think they can best speak about. Think of this as an opportunity to have someone else talk about things you couldn’t fit in your resume.
- Be thankful: The process isn’t over when they hand you their letter. Make sure to look it over (unless it’s required to be sealed) and verify that it’s relevant and what you need for your application. After you’ve sent it off, be sure to thank your writer. An old fashioned thank you note is the best way to go, and mention how much it meant to you that they were willing to vouch for you and help you achieve your goals.
Whether you’re applying for a scholarship, a new job, a graduate program, or you just want something to supplement your resume, a strong letter of recommendation can set you apart from other applicants. Not only does it show your ability to build and maintain working relationships, a well-written letter gives potential employers, colleges, and scholarship providers an idea of your past achievements and work-ethic. To ensure a useful and relevant letter, ask someone who has a history of working with or advising you to write a recommendation. Provide the writer with examples of your work, an updated resume, and a brief description of the position or organization you are applying to.
Holly King is a recently graduated writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. When not scouring the internet for updates in business, lifestyles, and technology, she is tending to her garden and trying to perfect the world’s best egg sandwich.
image credit: colorado.edu
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