Most students find applying for college to be complicated, time-consuming, and stressful. It’s often worthwhile to work with both your counselor at school and a college admissions professional if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting into your dream school. It can be tough to know how to prepare, especially if you’re the first person in your family to go to college or you’re trying to navigate the college admissions process on your own. If you need some help getting started, keep reading to find out more about three things your college counselor would want you to know.
1. It’s about finding the best school for you.
One of the first things college application services will tell you is that you need to focus on schools that are a good match for you and your skills. A college counselor can look at your educational history, your qualifications, and your learning style and help you find programs where you’re most likely to succeed. A college counselor can also talk to you about financial aid and the best way to make a payment plan for your education. You need to think about how much debt you’re willing to take on for your degree and whether or not your future career will give you a realistic way to pay off any loans you take out. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider, and it’s a smart idea to enlist professional help to do so.
2. You don’t need to sign up for every extracurricular activity.
Many people think that loading their college application with activities is the best way to get into the school they want to attend. The reality is that schools aren’t going to be impressed by a laundry list of activities. Colleges want to see applicants who have a demonstrated passion for learning and the ability to stick with the activities they’re interested in. Having leadership positions in one or two student organizations is more impressive than being a member of ten clubs that you barely participate in.
Schools also look for students who have been active in their community or make an effort to affect real-world change. Try to find ways to participate in local events, volunteer with charitable organizations that mean something to you, and advance your educational interests. There are a lot of programs, classes, and internships available to high school students who want to prepare for college, so make sure you look for opportunities in your area.
3. It’s okay if you don’t have your career planned out already.
It can sometimes feel like everyone knows exactly what they plan to do for the rest of their lives, even in high school. It’s important to remember that even the most meticulously thought-out plans can change. Many people switch majors over the course of their college careers or end up pursuing a graduate degree in a completely different field. However, it is important to choose a major that you think might suit you on your application. It can help admissions officers understand how your interests fit into the overall makeup of the school.
There’s no way around the fact that it’s difficult to apply to college, even more so if your goal is to get into one of the top schools in the country. Though there are advantages to attending big-name schools, you should always remember that fit does matter and you need to find an educational environment that is likely to help you succeed. Your college counselor can help you figure out what type of program you’re best suited for. Don’t pressure yourself to join every extracurricular activity or plan out every step of your career before you apply. Your goal should be to show schools what type of student you are, what demonstrated interests you have, and how you’ll be a productive member of their campus community.