Posts Tagged ‘perfect college match’

6 Things High School Freshman Should Know About the College Search

Categories: Admissions Advice

AP ExamWhen freshman enter high school, college is probably the last thing on their minds. There are just so many other important things to think about, like, where it’s okay to sit in the cafeteria, and which teachers check homework every day and getting from X hall to J hall before the 3 minute bell!

It’s a crazy world in those high school halls, especially for a newbie.  What’s even crazier is that it’s actually not that crazy to start thinking about college once you catch your breath.  It may seem unnecessary at the time, considering you still got 4 more school years to go, but in the long run, it will actually ease the stress your college search.

Here are 6 things college-bound high school freshman should keep in mind:

1.  Start Early
Freshman year of high school seems early to to start your college search.  But, it’s more about mental preparedness than anything else.  The college application process is like a 3-ringed circus that you have to run while keeping up with your high school classes. The more you can prepare yourself for it, the smoother time you’ll have.

Sit down with your high school counselor.  Make sure you’re on the path to graduate on time and that you’re taking classes required for most colleges.  Discuss your future with your parents so you can all be on the same page about your goals. College is a big deal–financially and academically–and will have a huge impact on your life. So, how could it hurt to start thinking about it?

2. Find a Passion or Hobby
There are too many students out there who just phone-in volunteer hours so it will “look good” on their college application.  Yes, extra-curricular activities, leadership and volunteer services will make your college application appear more well-rounded.  But, college admissions folks weren’t born yesterday. They can tell the difference between surface-deep involvement in an activity and a heartfelt one.

A passion or a hobby can be anything.  Sports, birdwatching, an after-school job, tutoring, etc.  Find or continue doing what you love and what interests you.  It will be easier, and far more fun and motivating to grow and find leadership positions doing something you love versus something you think will look good on a resume.

3. Reach Out to Teachers
Your teachers are probably the most underused resource you have.  If they’re teaching at your school, they went to college and can offer up words of wisdom.  Ask questions about how they discovered they wanted to become teachers or if they know any field of study that you’d be interested in.  Just because it’s not on the syllabus doesn’t mean you can’t ask.

It’s also great to keep up a healthy relationship with a couple teachers because you might need a letter of recommendation in a few years.

4. Every Year Counts
Certain colleges will tell you that they disregard Freshman year from your transcript and GPA. For the most part, this is not the case. Do not throw away your freshman year out of the belief that “it doesn’t matter”. All of your grades go into your GPA, so keep up with your schoolwork.

Also, if you get involved in activities your freshman year, you’ll have more flexibility to move up and take on leadership opportunities that a person who starts in a club their sophomore or junior year won’t have.

5. Plan Your Summer Smartly
The summer going into your sophomore year can really set the pace for the rest of your high school career and college search.  Think about your priorities.  What do you want to be able to tell colleges when you apply to them?  If you want to show them your work ethic, perhaps taking on extra hours at your summer job is key.  If you want to show them you’re passionate about volunteering, volunteer! Apply for an internship at a local charity.   Use your time in the summer not only to have fun, but to keep yourself growing as a college-bound student.

6.  Keep an Eye Out for Scholarships
Paying for college is no small feat. In fact, if it were feet, it’d be huge feet.  There are tons of scholarships out there. Some are small. Some are huge.  The earlier you start looking and applying for scholarships, the more likely are you to acquire some scholarship money before you head off to college.

The sooner you start, the more ahead you’ll be in your college search.

Do you have tips for high school freshman about beginning their college search early? Comment and let us know!

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Cappex Myth Busters: 7 College Admissions Myths Debunked

Categories: Admissions Advice

MythBustersLike any rumor that creeps its way through the halls of high school, the facts about college admissions have probably been as distorted as the words in a game of “Telephone” by the time they reach your ears.  After all, the gossip about The Plastics holding an open call for new members or Jake Ryan being single turned out not to be so true, so why would the chit chat about undergraduate admissions you heard from that guy named Skeeter in Heater Hall be 100% dependable?

For this reason, we’ve decided to attack the rumors, gossip, hearsay, and overall gross fallacies about college and university admissions with the truth.

Here are seven college admissions myths, busted!

1. There are only one or two perfect schools for me.
A true classic when it comes to college or university admissions myths, the there’s-only-one-school-out-there-for-me-state-of-mind is akin to saying a Bonobo chimpanzee takes one mate for life–it’s just not true!  While Bonobo chimps are probably more promiscuous than you will be (or can be) in your college search, you should at least take on a little Bonobo mentality of not settling when it comes to the college you go to.

So maybe your dad and his dad and his dad and your brother and your brother’s fiancée and your sister went to a university that has a particular and special place in the family tree–does it mean it’s right for you?

Schools change over time.  The campus culture when your dad went to school might be totally different now.  Another school, similar in size and distance from your home could have a program you’re interested in that the other school doesn’t offer.

Cappex alone has nearly 3,000 colleges in our database, so whatever your tie to a specific school is, see what other schools might surprisingly fit you.

2. Private colleges are always more expensive than public/state schools.
This is a widespread myth that probably holds a lot of college-bound students back from researching private schools. While the difference in sticker prices on the two types of institutions may have a wide gap, in many cases, private schools will offer more financial aid and scholarships, making it a comparable, if not cheaper, option.

The moral of debunking this myth? Don’t count out private schools right away for financial reasons.

3. Only the top students receive scholarships.
There’s more to life than earning the top grades in your class–not to say that great marks hurt your college admissions chances–but you shouldn’t count yourself out of college scholarships if your grades aren’t top notch.  In fact, if you are accepted into a school and demonstrate financial need (fill out the FAFSA on time!), colleges will make it possible for you to pay for it with grants, scholarships, and loans.

On top of that, there are countless scholarships out there, and they’re not just looking for grades. You can find scholarships that fit you at www.cappex.com/scholarships.

4. It’s too early to look for scholarships before your senior year.
Whoever started this myth wasn’t making good decisions because it’s never too early to start looking for scholarships.  There are multiple reasons for this.  For one thing, many scholarships are annual, meaning they return every year.  If you’re familiar with the recurring scholarships, when you’re actually eligible to apply you’ll be more prepared than even that girl in your class who finishes her homework before it’s assigned because you’ll know what you’ll need to submit way ahead of time.

You might even be able to find scholarships to help pay for college long before you actually apply to college.  And these might have less fierce competition since fewer people are thinking about scholarships. The early bird gets the worm, and then the bird can go on to afford its dream college.

5. If I haven’t heard of this school I shouldn’t apply.
As smart as you are, there are plenty of super great awesome things you’ve never heard of, like Bonobo chimps or this secret sandwich sauce my grandma makes..  The same thing goes for colleges and universities.  A recognizable or popular college name  doesn’t inherently mean it’s the perfect fit and an unfamiliar college doesn’t mean it’s a worse school because you haven’t heard of it.

There are so many small colleges out there that it’s impossible to have heard of them all, and one of them might have the perfect program for you.   If you want some guidance looking for your college fit, log into Cappex and get some advice from our Virtual Admissions Coach.

6. I won’t get in if my SAT or ACT isn’t high enough.
whataremychances2When you look at the “What Are My Chances?” Calculator for any college you’ll see that almost every college has a range that they tend to accept students from, but there are plenty of exceptions.

You might fall below the average admitted student’s SAT or ACT score, but you have to remember it’s an average.  That means both students with scores higher and lower-than-average have been admitted.  If you feel like a college is a great fit for you, don’t let your SAT or ACT scores inhibit you from applying to them.

7. The more extra-curricular activities, the better.
If you’re running from student council to key club to yearbook to Spanish club to Honors Society to musical rehearsal to softball practice all in the name of how your college application will look to admission officers, you can take a breath.

Colleges don’t necessarily want to see how overextended you can be; they want to see that you’re committed and passionate about your extra-curricular activities.  A bunch of unrelated surface-deep activities don’t have the same impact or say as much about you to admission officers as a couple highly-focused activities do.

Not only should busting this myth save you time from phoning in activities you don’t truly care about, but it will give you more time to spend with your passions.