How To Navigate The College Process

By: Valerie Casimir

 

Applying for college can be really stressful and overwhelming especially during COVID-19. Here are some tips that I found helpful that will hopefully help you!

 

Tip #1: Try to have a general idea of what you would want to potentially major in.

I know for me, knowing what I was going to major in helped me limit the list of colleges I was looking at because I wanted to see if they had that specific major. If you know you want to be in a specific program such as nursing or engineering, it will help you in your college search to find schools that have a strong program.

 

Tip #2: Begin drafting a list of potential colleges

When creating your list of colleges there are many different things to factor into your decision. Here are some things you should consider…

  • How far away from home you want to be (In- state vs Out of state)

  • Do you want a bigger school or a smaller school

  • Make sure they have the specific major that you want.

  • Do you want to go to college in the city or in the suburbs 

Also, making your list you want to have safety schools, reach schools, and schools that are in your ballpark GPA wise. 

 

Tips #3: Begin thinking about your college essay.

Brainstorm a list of potential topics that you might want to write about. The more time you take to write your essay the better it will be. I made the mistake of pushing it back until I actually began applying for college and it was really stressful. Allowing yourself enough time to properly write and develop your essay will drastically improve your essay. Also definitely have your English teachers read and correct your essay. Lastly, your essay topic doesn’t need to be about something insanely tragic in your life. You should write about something that you are passionate about and that will portray the best picture of you. 

 

Tip #4: Think about who you would want to write your college recommendation letters.

It is really important to ask early so your teachers have time to thoroughly write your recommendation. I asked my teachers towards the end of my junior year. It is really important you ask a teacher who really knows you and who you have a good relationship with. Ideally, it would be a teacher from your junior year but it could also be a club advisor you've had for a couple years or a coach. It’s really important to try and get to know your teachers and also make sure you are doing well in their class. 

 

Tip #5: Start Common App Early

I found that filling out the Common App is not that difficult in itself however, if you procrastinate and leave it all for the last minute it will become really stressful. Over the summer you can start filling out your basic information and give yourself a head start. I had filled out my basic information and my extracurriculars over the summer which really helped me during the fall. It is really important to plan out what you have to do and hold yourself accountable. If you are applying early action, it’s really hard to do your college stuff while juggling the opening of school and all your activities. By completing certain things over the summer it will drastically help make the college process easier for you!