From College Counselor, Patti Bostwick to the Juniors:
As the Seniors come down to their final decisions, we can look back at a year when the rules seemed to change. With applications everywhere at an all-time high, students found that old ways of looking at what seemed to be constants were not necessarily valid, and more than ever realized that “this isn’t your father’s (or even your sister’s) college application process.”
What lessons can Juniors learn from this?
While there is still value in strategizing (should I get tutoring and retake the ACT/SAT?**) and of course ending the year with a strong 6th semester transcript (don’t let up—sprint to the finish, including solid final exams) and making sure you secure strong teacher recommendations before the end of the end of the school year (you may want to use the teacher recommendation form attached)–the very best way to assure yourself of having happy news and hard choices next year at this time is to heed the age-old-advice of college counselors everywhere—apply to a diverse list of schools—that are dream/reach schools—target/possible schools—and likely/once-known-as-safety schools EVERY ONE OF WHICH IS A SCHOOL YOU WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO ATTEND.
With your Junior Conference Report is included a list of schools that are a starting off point for research. There will be schools in each of the above categories and all will have potential as a match in some way—location, campus atmosphere, college major, etc. The key is for you to do research, and the report includes sources including books, websites, picking Patti’s brain, and of course the exhortation to visit campuses when possible. We’ll discuss your list next fall, or earlier, if you like.
Having done your research has two key benefits:
1) You can find a range of schools that are potentially a good “fit,” academically, remembering that colleges are much more competitive than even a few years ago. Make sure some of your “safety” schools really are still accessible. Moreover, colleges for which you are in the high end of the applicant pool are most likely to offer financial or program incentives—or both—which can truly enhance the “value” of your post-secondary education. If you love those colleges as much as you love your “reach” schools, graduating with little or no debt can be a beautiful thing, and something to weigh in your decision-making next spring.
2) The second main benefit of having done your research is that when you apply, everything else being equal, your ability to demonstrate through your application and writing that you truly are a great “fit” for the school will speak strongly to the admissions officers. That means you really need to know the colleges in depth, and know yourself well enough to be able to speak about your experiences, values and goals that will show them that you will a) Make a valuable and unique contribution to their campus and b) Take advantage of the opportunities offered there.
Having attended Roeper, while not a guarantee of getting into your dream school, you have the advantage of having had a philosophical base to your learning, strong personal relationships with your teachers and the opportunities to fully participate in a variety of activities, which can lead to your knowing yourself and knowing where and how you learn best. Taking that knowledge and finding that range of schools that suit you well is the best way to find success in the ever-changing world of college admissions.
**Note: One thing you do NOT have to worry about is the “new” SAT. That won’t take effect until the current 10th graders are juniors, so cross that right off your list. If you take or retake the SAT, it will be the same format as for the last several years. Practice tests for both ACT and SAT are in College Counseling, as is a list of tutors (accumulated, not endorsed).