Dear Class of 2017:
Now that summer is halfway over, I imagine that you are beginning to think ahead to fall and college applications. Some of you have emailed me about college visits and essay drafts. Please continue doing this. If you have a plan and manage your time you will have a smooth application season—as have your predecessors in earlier classes! Following are 10 tips for you to follow:
1) Read all of the emails I send you!! If you haven’t figured out how to have your Roeper email sent to your “real” email or your phone, Brian Durst can help you. You will receive information about deadlines, scholarships, testing and tips on college admissions. To be really in the know, also read the Roeper Record. If you miss this information, you may miss out on important opportunities.
2) Look over your transcript when you receive it in the mail. Check that all of your courses are listed and that all of your grades are accurate. (Was your second foreign language left off the transcript? Is there a B+ that should have been an A-)? That will give us time to have your teachers make the grade corrections before we send them to colleges. Also, we will not send out any transcripts with INC grades—even if it is a 9th grade course. Make sure you complete any missing assignments or talk to your teacher to see what is missing.
3) Complete your resume. And send me a copy. Start with a list of all of your activities beginning in the ninth grade (only include anything earlier if you have done it consistently over time, eg. took piano lessons since 3rd grade and still do). Then list everything in order of importance to you. Now, figure out how many weeks per year and hours per week you participated in that activity. For your Common App, you will list your top 10 activities in order with a short description of what it means to you.
Next, create a “formal” resume you can send or hand to people like employers, college interviewers, or to non-Common App colleges. If you need a template, let me know. Even better, use the Roeper Record where you will find an article about how to create a resume with a link to a template (February 29, 2016)
4) Send me a list of people who know you well, including their email addresses. Only a few of you have done this so far! You would be surprised how honored and happy your grandparents, employers, rabbis, coaches, etc. are to be asked. And I can’t stress enough how helpful this information is for me in writing your recommendation letters. One benefit you have in attending Roeper is having recommendations that are extremely personal and deeply descriptive. A recommendation that uses a variety of sources, our personal interviews and conversations, your narrative progress reports and being able to round everything out with information from people who care about you and know you from a non-academic perspective helps to help you stand out in a sea of tens of thousands of applications.
5) Make sure you have connected with your teacher recommenders. Hopefully you have already asked a teacher or two to write you a letter of recommendation. You may have already filled out a Teacher Recommendation Request Form, if they asked you to do so. If you aren’t able to contact them over the summer, put this on your calendar for as soon as we get back to school!
6) Visit colleges if you can. Even though colleges look different when they are teeming with students, summer may be the best time for you to visit. Whether you create a trip specifically to do college visits or expand a family vacation by visiting colleges nearby, you want to get yourself on some college campuses. This doesn’t need to be a major excursion: Day trips to Michigan colleges can give you a sample of campus experience. For example, Wayne State is a city campus, U of M is in a suburban city and MSU has more of a contained campus. Smaller universities like Grand Valley, Western or Northern or small liberal arts colleges like Kalamazoo, Albion, Hope, Alma or Hillsdale can give you an idea of what campus size and style appeals to you. We then can use this as a basis of comparison with colleges that you might not be able to visit until you are admitted. Bear in mind that colleges do track “demonstrated interest,” and while this doesn’t mean you have to make a personal visit to every college to which you apply, selective schools will expect you to visit if you live within about a three hour drive.
7) Do your college research. Again, colleges don’t expect that everyone can make a personal visit. However, you can get a good idea of what colleges are like by doing online research, talking to alums, and reading guide books. The college websites are designed to promote their schools, but you can get deeper information by looking at the academic parts of the website. Online sites like colleges.niche.com; cappex.com or collegeboard.com can help you find schools with majors that interest you, do comparisons, or even find out student opinions. Two sourcebooks that most people use are Colleges that Change Lives and the Fiske Guide. Both are interesting to read and helpful.
8) Begin thinking about your college essays. Remember that you will be writing one or more “stories” that will make you come alive in the college admissions process. You want them to be unique—something no one but you could write—and with interesting detail. Remember that this is your last best way to control your application—there is no way to overemphasize their importance. I will be sending a separate message reiterating information about the essay, but meanwhile, please consider sending me rough drafts—the rougher the better—to get an idea if you are on track.
9) If you plan to retake the ACT or SAT this fall, registration is open. Note the September 10 ACT registration deadline is AUGUST 5! The registration deadline for the October 1 SAT is SEPTEMBER 1.
10) When in doubt—refer to #1
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling