There are a lot of different emotions when it comes to college preparation. Some people really enjoy preparing for college and trying to figure out what they want to do later on in life. Others… It is not so simple. Someone like myself who is not sure what they want major in may start to stress and get worried. Along with seeing what major is best, you also have to try to find a college that is a good fit for you. With that comes a lot of different questions, and I am here to try to help. I interviewed Miss Klase, who is also the high school guidance counselor to help students prepare for life after high school. I asked her a series of questions that maybe you might have about college.
When should I start my college prep?
College prep can be nerve wracking, especially when you are just starting and feel that you have so much to do. It is best to start college preparation in 9th grade. Miss Klase says, “Make it a process rather then just cramming everything in during your eleventh and twelfth grade year.” Start looking at different college websites. They will have all the information you need such as majors they offer, the cost of classes, and the cost of room and board if you choose to stay on campus. After this, take PSAT (a test to prepare you for the SAT) in 10th grade so you know what you need to be studying.
How do I find a school that is best for me?
First make a list of things that are important to you such as a private or public college, big or small, close or far, and how much financial aid they offer. Something else that Miss Klase pointed out was to see if there are any extracurricular activities you are interested in and see if they offer it.
Should I take the ACT or SAT? What is the difference?
It is up to you, what one you want to take but the SAT is a lot more popular and more widely accepted on the East Coast. Miss Klase noted that not a lot of students here at Berks Christian take the ACT unless they are interested in a certain college that requires require it. The difference between the two are that the ACT’s include more subjects than the SAT and the scoring is different. There is also no national pre-test for the ACT (like the PSAT for the SAT).
How do admissions officers view extracurricular activities within an application?
They view extracurricular activities pretty highly because you want anything to set you apart from every other person that is applying to that school. Things such as drama, sports, clubs, and service hours count as extracurricular. A student who attends Berks from 9-12 would have 120+ service hours, and this will really set you apart from a lot of other people.
What do admissions officers look for in an application essay?
Application essays need to be concise because there is almost always a word count, and these admissions officers are reading a lot of applications all the time. Miss Klase says, “Make it very specific about you.” Usually they are looking for experiences you had and what you’re looking for in college. Use examples.
Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
Usually they want one from the guidance counselor, which would be Miss Klase for BCS students, then sometimes a principal, which would be Mr. Warner. Additionally, if you are looking to go into a specific major, you should ask the teacher of that area. You should give the person at least two weeks to write it.
What should I do when I visit campuses?
You should start visiting the colleges you are interested in mostly in eleventh grade, then make a second round your senior year if you still are not sure. A good time to do tours is in the summer as you have a lot more time during break as a high schooler and the admissions officers are all still on campus working. When you are on campus, try to talk to the students there to see how like it. Do not just talk to the students they set upon the tour as they are just trying to show you the best parts of the campus. After a college visit, you should have a feeling of what student life is like there. Make a pro and con list of each school you visit.
All this being said, choosing a college is not a simple process. Making the decision what school you are going to attend is usually the first major decision you are going to make as an adult. I hope the questions and answers will help you make your college decision. Good luck!