Basic Checklist for College Applications
The college admission application forms ask for a lot of information that your student may not have readily available.
Here's a checklist your teen can use before he or she sits down to fill out and submit the application.
Basic Checklist for College Admission Applications
|Social Security Number - this may or may not be required; however, if you plan to apply
for financial aid and scholarships, your SSN will need to be submitted.
The colleges your parents attended and the dates they attended or
|Names and addresses of all high schools you've attended including the
dates attended (Month/Year to Month/Year)
Transcripts from all of the high schools you've attended.
|Names and addresses of any college that you've attended. Leave "Degree Earned"
blank if you have not completed the degree program.
ACT/SAT Test Scores, dates taken, and future dates you intend to take the tests.
|Names of clubs and organizations in which you have been a member
during your high school years.
Your parent's current employer(s) and your parent's job title.
|The names of relatives (and their relation to you) who attended the university
you are applying to.
|Your employment history, including dates of employment (when you started and
when the job ended).
College Admission Applications Take More Time Than You Expect
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
32 High Schools Participate in Virginia Application Week
The week of November 18-22, 2013 has been declared Virginia College Application Week (VCAW) by the state's governor, Bob McDonnell.
The purpose of the program is to increase the number of eligible Virginia high school students applying to colleges early in their senior year. During this event, students will have the opportunity to apply to any of Virginia’s 24 public two-year colleges, 15 public four-year universities, 70 private non-profit institutions and over 250 other non-public schools, as well as any out-of-state institutions in which they are interested.
Smart College Visit is pleased to participate in this initiative as an event sponsor and volunteer to assist students with completion and submission of college applications. We'll be on-hand at Eastern Montgomery High School on Wednesday, November 20 for their College Application Day activities.
Participating high schools state-wide include:
- Achievable Dream Middle/High School, Newport News City
- Armstrong High School, Richmond City
- Brunswick High School, Brunswick County
- Central High School, Lunenburg County
- Denbigh High School, Newport News City
- Eastern Montgomery High School, Montgomery County
- Franklin High School, Franklin City
- Freedom High School, Prince William County
- Galax High School,Galax City
- Galileo Magnet High School, Danville City
- Gar-Field High School, Prince William County
- George Washington High School, Danville City
- George Wythe High School, Richmond City
- Greensville County High School, Greensville County
- Hampton High School, Hampton City
- Harrisonburg High School, Harrisonburg City
- Heritage High School, Lynchburg City
- Heritage High School, Newport News City
- Hopewell High School, Hopewell City
- Highland Springs High School, Henrico County
- Huguenot High School, Richmond City
- I.C. Norcom High School, Portsmouth City
- John Marshall High School, Richmond City
- Martinsville High School, Martinsville City
- Nottoway High School, Nottoway County
- Petersburg High School, Petersburg City
- Phoebus High School, Hampton City
- Prince Edward County High School, Prince Edward County
- Sussex Central High School, Sussex County
- Twin Valley High School, Buchanan County
- Washington and Lee High School, Westmoreland County
- Woodrow Wilson High School, Portsmouth City
Common App Mishaps: Tips to Stay Informed
With Early Decision deadlines approaching and the on-going problems with the Common App, it's not surprising parents and students may be feeling an even higher level of stress over applying to college this fall. Rather than let the stress of dealing with systems not in your control get to you, control what you can and stay informed.
Here are a few tips to do just that:
- Know the application deadlines from each school to which your teen plans to submit an application.
- Start Now. Even if the application deadline is 1 week, 2 weeks, or even a month away, get the application started and keep on it. You may be able to avoid delays related to technology glitches that could pop up.
- Keep a backup of everything related to the application, even if it simply means making a screen capture of your application, downloading the app, or printing out the application. If there is a system failure and you have to begin again, at least you won't have to rethink every question in the app and resubmitting will go more quickly.
- Follow the Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts for the schools where applications will be submitted. Deadline extensions and other updates from the admissions office will likely be posted through social media channels.
- Follow the Common Application on Twitter and Facebook as well. They are definitely posting updates through these channels.
- Submit the application prior to the deadline. You don't want to wait until the last minute and be part of a system overload that may cause glitches. Perhaps by submitting early there will be time to resolve any problems related to the application process.
Three Tools for College-bound Teens and their Parents
As fast as you can stuff a backpack, there new tools, resources, and apps coming online to help college-bound students and parents search, access, track and find whatever they need to navigate the college admissions process. Here are some we've been following:
ApplyKit - helps students manage all of the details related to the college admissions process.
Quad2Quad - an iPhone app to help students/families plan their campus visits and navigate from one college to another.
Statfuse - an "acceptance" calculator of sorts. Statfuse calculates the liklihood of getting accepted at a particular college.
Disclaimer: None of the companies listed above are affiliates of Smart College Visit and, unless clearly stated as such, being listed on SmartCollegeVisit.com should be not be considered an endorsement.
Three Things High School Seniors Should Do Now
For many high school seniors, the start of the new school year also marks the official start of the college application process. While students should begin planning and research as early as 9th and 10th grade, there are many 12th graders who may just be diving in now.
With early application deadlines just around the corner (November 1st and 15th), Dr. Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise (www.IvyWise.com) and LinkedIn Higher Ed Expert, urges high school seniors who may be off to a bit of a late start to do these three things right away:
Narrow down your college list.
Students should end up with a list of 12 to 15 good-fit schools, a balanced list of reach, target and likely schools, all of which are an academic, social and financial fit. A great place to start your research is LinkedIn, which provides aspiring students and young professionals with the opportunity to make informed decisions on which universities, majors and skills will help them achieve personal and professional success in years ahead. LinkedIn University pages allows students to learn what’s happening on campus, ask questions of faculty, staff, students and alumni, check out notable alumni and explore the professional paths of graduates.
Create a college application checklist.
Senior year of high school can be overwhelming for many students. It’s often the most rigorous year academically, and the college application process has gotten a lot more complex since mom and dad applied. It’s important to create a college application checklist and calendar with key dates now so that you don’t miss any important deadlines. Be sure to include due dates for early and regular applications at each school to which you’re applying, standardized test dates, deadlines to apply for scholarships and financial aid, as well as deadlines for school projects, mid-terms and final exams.
Approach teachers for letters of recommendation.
Most selective colleges and universities require one to three recommendation letters with a student’s application, usually from a guidance counselor and at least one teacher. If you haven’t done so already, identify two 11th grade teachers who know you well—not just the ones who gave you the easy “A”—and ask them to write a letter of recommendation immediately. Teachers receive many requests and are not required to write these letters. Often, teachers will limit the number of letters they write, so students need to ask early. Be sure to provide a copy of your resume, examples of your completed assignments and information about the colleges to which you are applying, so they can personalize your letter. Also, don't forget to write your own letter to thank your teachers for their time!
Tips For College-Bound Student-Athletes
Andrea Mosher, founder of California-based Childress Sports Consulting, shares the following tips for college-bound teens who also hope to become college-level athletes.
- Do your homework before making a decision. The recruiting process is designed to show the school and coaching staff at their absolute best. Everyone will roll out the red carpet, so it’s your responsibility to stay grounded and ask the tough questions throughout the process.
- Ask yourself, “Would I still attend this college if I were not playing sports?” Sports are naturally a huge part of being a college student-athlete, but it’s just as important to consider what happens off the field of play. Is this a good fit beyond sports? Injuries happen, playing time fluctuates, and coaches can change over the course of four years. Know what you're really signing up for.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about money. You need to know what the *actual* cost of attendance will be. If you receive an athletic scholarship, don’t assume you get everything for free. Scholarship amounts vary by team and type of school (i.e., Division I vs. Division II, III, or NAIA). Even “full scholarship” student-athletes will have miscellaneous expenses beyond what their scholarship can cover.
- As you go through your recruiting journey, look for opportunities that will help you grow not just as an athlete, but as a well‐rounded, successful young adult. Your athletic gifts are a vehicle to earn an education, and it is your education – not just your ability to play sports – that will give you the opportunity to *create *the future of your dreams.
This is an exciting time in your life. Learn all that you can about the place where you will spend the next four-five years of your life. There is no perfect college, but there is one that’s a perfect fit for *you.*Keep the big picture in mind, ask questions, get to know the people, and enjoy the experience!
For more tips on becoming a college athlete, check out Andrea's eBook: Collegiate Student-Athlete Recruiting Guide.
Parent-to-Parent: Who Decides Course Selection?
My son is entering his sophomore year in high school and even before we go to orientation, he already knows he has to drop one of the classes he signed up for last spring. In 9th grade, planners then thought the daily schedule would allow a 15-minute lunch break and students who wanted to could schedule an 8-class school day. We recently learned that this option will not be in place when students return to high school next week.
Last spring, when my teen surprised by handing me a course list to sign that included 8 classes (with 2 honors-level classes and 3 electives: Spanish 3, Sports Marketing and Culinary Arts), I was pleased with his course selection overall, but knowing how often teen boys need to eat and the social importance of lunch, I questioned his decision to opt for the short lunch block. He said this was what he wanted. I approved the course list and he sent it in.
Now that we know he has to drop an elective, he's decided to drop Sports Marketing and keep Culinary Arts. Dropping Spanish was not an option since he wants to fully meet any college's foreign language requirement by taking four years in high school.
Will all this work out? Can he keep Culinary Arts and still end up with the other courses he wants on his schedule? We'll soon find out. Ultimately, the decision as to what classes a student takes ends up being determined not by student (or parent) preference, but by availability. That's a good lesson to learn early, as the practice will continue once he gets to college.
How's high school course selection going for your teen?
Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit.
Being A Tall Poppy
The Australians have a wonderful tem for someone who stands out: they are a tall poppy. That phrase brings a vivid visual to mind of an expansive field of bright red and orange poppies swaying in the gentle breeze under the summer sun. And from any vantage point, you can see one or two flowers that have grown well above the rest. The tall poppies. You notice them.
Sometimes it’s an honor to be a tall poppy: you have risen above the crowd. Other times, well, not so much: you attract too much attention and get cut down.
So, for college interviews, is it an advantage or disadvantage to be a tall poppy? That highly depends on you and on the college.
During most college interviews, you want to stand out – in a good way: be sharp, be professional, be personable. But don’t stand out because you smell bad, give flip answers, or are disrespectful. Those latter characteristics won’t win you any points. But don’t be afraid to have flair.
Dress up a simple skirt and blouse with some funky jewelry or bright scarf that you might have a story about. Did you make them? Acquire them during a trip? Guys can do the same with a colorful shirt or tie. And stand out with amazing answers – don’t try to say what you thing the interviewer wants to hear. Be truthful and speak from the heart. Don’t be afraid to be different.
Because here’s the thing: you need to be who you are during an interview. You shouldn’t pretend to be something you aren’t because if you get accepted under false pretenses, chances are you aren’t going to fit in once you start being true to yourself. If you thrive in an unstructured environment, make sure you check out “unusual” colleges that will fit your profile and needs.
If having purple hair and lots of tats makes you happy, find a college that embraces that profile and thrive there. If you love structure and attention to detail, there are colleges that will appeal to you that are focused that way. College is your opportunity to grow, develop, and discover who you will be. Make the most of it and be a tall poppy, in a good way.
Gail Billingsley is a world traveler and COO of Smart College Visit. She frequently writes about travel, technology, and college life.
Tips for a Job Interview via Skype
If you didn't get to study abroad in college but still want to experience life in other cultures, consider applying to teach English abroad! The process is like any other prospective job: you apply and interview. The only difference is that it's likely your interview will take place via Skype.
Sean Lords, just returned from teaching English in Seol provides this advice: "An interview is not only an interview for them (the hiring agency) to get a feel for you and gauging your fit for the position, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to realize who you will be working for and what you can expect when heading overseas to teach English." Sean's provided the following guest post on how to to make the most from your Skype interview. We think these tips will work great for a Skype interview for college admissions, too!
Top 3 Tips for a Super Skype Interview:
- What to wear?
Treat the Skype interview like you would an in-person interview. Clean yourself up, shave, fix your hair, and wear nice clothing. Because you’ll most likely be sitting at the computer while attending your interview, remember interviewers will only see your top-half, so wearing nice pants, fancy skirt, or dress shoes isn’t a necessity. Make sure your shirt is ironed; males should wear a tie, and ladies should not overdo the makeup. Be formal but also be comfortable.
- What to say?
There are job interviews and there are social meetings. If your Skype interview is a job interview, respond in ways that express your interest in the position, ways that display your unique qualities and sets you apart from the other applicants. If teaching abroad is something you would really enjoy doing, you shouldn’t have a problem with expressing your passion for the position. Just make sure whatever you say is with complete honesty, you keep eye contact, and you don’t stutter, ramble on, or “try too hard” to impress the interviewers.
- How to act?
Eye contact was mentioned beforehand and nothing exerts a person’s confidence more than speaking clearly, concisely, and looking the person in the eye while doing so. Eye contact with Skype is tough, because to truly make eye contact, both the interviewee and the interviewer will need to be looking straight into the web-cam. You’ll be fine looking at the screen, but for even greater impact make eye contact with both the camera lens and the computer screen.
Refrain from fidgeting around with your hands, biting your fingers, or other actions that indicate nervousness or anxiety. Be calm and take deep breaths. Make sure you’re in a quiet room with no outside noises to distract either you or the interviewer.
Skype interviews are my favorite. You don’t have to worry about driving/traveling and arriving to the destination on time. You can complete the interview in the comfort of your home and quickly slip into comfy clothes after you’re finished.
Just think of the alternative – most of these people you’ll be interviewing with live in an entirely different country. You don’t have to spend money on expensive airfare or travel documentation. Instead, you can sit in your favorite chair while you blow the interviewer's socks off. Your opportunity teaching English abroad awaits!
About this guest blogger: After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English as a second language. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master's degree.