We’ve said here before: Don’t wait until the last minute. Allow plenty of time to complete your college admission application.
And while it’s one thing to speak or write those words, it’s an entirely different thing to witness their value first-hand.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, was Virginia College Application Day for Eastern Montgomery High School. Myself, along with Erin Roach from UIU Link and Rachel Preston from Emory & Henry College, were on hand as volunteers to help students complete their college applications.
Throughout the day seniors were excused from class to come to the computer lab to submit their applications to college. They came well prepared with copies of their transcripts and resumes, but we quickly discovered that there were many surprises as to what information each college required. Some colleges had essay requirements, other applications were lengthy and took hours to complete, while others asked for information about parents that the students had no knowledge of.
For example, one application asked if the parent owned a vehicle in Virginia and required the parent’s driver’s license number be provided. Most applications asked if the parents file Virginia Income Tax forms and whether or not the applicant is claimed as a dependent. For many students these were not answers readily known and the students ended up having to call their parents at work for more information.
There were a few challenges related to choice of major. One student wanted to major in computer science but could not find it in the list of majors (it was discovered to be a major declared after freshman year, not when applying).
Another wanted a program that fell under social services instead of the commonly recognized name. The bottom line: completing an application took longer than any student thought it would.
Here are a few tips from lessons learned this week:
- If possible, print a copy of the application from the college web site (most schools will have a PDF version available).
- Read over the application and highlight the sections you don’t immediately understand or that you’ll need additional input on (ex: parents’ tax or employment info, etc.).
- Use a folder or large envelope to store a copy of your transcript, your resume, important dates or id numbers, names of relatives who attended the colleges you’re applying to (these are called “legacies”), and the dates they attended.
- If you are dual-enrolled in a college program while in high school, have the dates attended and names of the classes handy.
- Know the addresses of where you lived over the past 2 years (if not at your current address) and the dates you resided at the previous dwelling.
- If an essay or personal statement is required or “recommended,” come prepared with a completed (proofed and spell-checked) version or versions — depending on what the college requires.
- And to repeat what we already knew: don’t wait until the last minute to start your college admission application.
The seniors at Eastern Montgomery got a jump on college applications. Their applications were submitted before the regular decision deadline, which takes enormous pressure off their backs, and now that they have one or two applications completed, it will be easier to apply to a few more schools and expand opportunities to further their education.
I’d like to thank Jeanne Allen, On-Time Graduation Coordinator for Montgomery County Public Schools, for inviting us to participate. It was great to work with the seniors and we wish them the best as they continue with their commitment to graduate and further their education. — Kelly Queijo