As you know, Seniors are coming down to their final decisions, some made last November for those who applied “early,” while some students will be weighing their choices right up until May 1. While not every student got into their “dream” school, they did exceptionally well. Additionally, they are in good company. Bear in mind that for some colleges, 90-96% of the students did NOT get into their “dream” school—so called that because dreams are elusive and ephemeral. Regardless of what Cinderella said, every dream that you wish will not come true! I’ve often said, happiness in life comes from having a Plan B (or C or D) that you are truly excited about. If you follow the advice of only applying to “first choice” colleges, you will have awesome choices to make May 1 as is the case with our current seniors.
Having attended Roeper, while not a guarantee of getting into your dream school, students 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.
I recently visited a diverse group of colleges in the Mid-Hudson River Valley—and had the awesome opportunity to meet up with two Roeper alums—Michael Matthews at West Point and Julia Eddy at Vassar, juniors at their respective schools. Both are thriving, successful, happy and at places very different from each other but just right for each of them. Just as you will, they went through a process of applying to a variety of schools that gave them opportunities to assess where they will be most successful, and had difficult decisions to make, just as our current seniors have.
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 from college 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. Furthermore, “demonstrated interest” is becoming increasingly important to admissions officers who are trying to figure out which of the 15 or so colleges students are applying to they are really serious about. 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.
For those of you who have not yet scheduled your Junior Family Conference, please complete your Parent and Student Questionnaires and contact Bridghette or Patti to schedule a meeting. It’s a great way to get the application process started, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you well.
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling