Schools are starting back up and this guest post by BHHS College Counselor Casey Rowley spells out guidelines of what to focus on this year when it comes to college applications.
If you ask anyone where they went to college and the path they took to get where they are today you will find an assortment of stories full of opportunity, challenges and unexpected turns. It can be surprising to hear where a person spent his or her undergrad…and that’s the beauty in it. We all have a journey that is far from formulaic.
I highly recommend the book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni. Frank Bruni is a columnist for the New York Times and a bestselling author. His story dives into some of America’s most amazing programs and colleges and a good portion of them will surprise you. Some of the most influential people of our time went to colleges we’ve never heard of, or colleges that would surprise us. I encourage my students to explore all of their options, simply because there truly are so many options. I hope for my students to get to the heart of the programs and the college offerings and environments to find the best FIT.
Here are some general tidbits per grade level…happy exploring!
Seniors: Typically I’ll recommend applying to between 5 and no more than 10 colleges. Sure, you have the right to apply to however many as you want, but keep in mind, you want to find colleges that fit your wants, needs, and abilities. Colleges that you’ll be excited to attend and you’ve researched enough to know are a good fit. We hear words like “safety” and “reach.” All that this means is that you find a range of colleges that meet your academic abilities and that you have a good chance of admission to. And guess what? The school that is your “safety” should be just as exciting to you as your “reach.” It’s true! Because at the end of the day your impact in your undergraduate college experience is much more than the name of the college. So set yourself up for success. Look at acceptance rates, programs, financial aid, the environment the college offers. Be able to tell someone why you are applying there, beyond the fact that it’s a “good school.” The more you research a college to ensure it’s a good fit, the easier it will be to write your applications, because you already know the programs and activities offered and why you want to go there.
Juniors: College rep visits at your school are the perfect opportunity to sit in a small group setting and hear more about colleges across the U.S. and around the world. You can hear about direct-entry programs, or programs that will get you a master’s degree in less than 5-6 years. You can hear about merit-scholarships and internships and study abroad options that are offered at all grade levels. It’s kind of amazing to dive deeper into a school and find that it’s a good fit for you. Tour colleges, take your time, and remember to find colleges that fit your wants, needs, and abilities.
Sophomores and Freshman: This is the perfect time to continue exploring your interests academically and outside the classroom. Attend college fairs and college rep visits, and just start to take note of some things that interest you. No need to overdo it…explore!
Review my past post on College Exploration Resources as a reference for ways to search new colleges.
This post was originally titled “Where Should I Apply?” Click here to visit more great content from Casey’s blog.
Casey Rowley is the College Counselor for Beverly Hills High School, serving over 1400 students, grades 9 through 12. Through connecting with her students and thoroughly understanding the admissions process, she has helped thousands of students discover and matriculate successfully into college and universities throughout the country and internationally. For more resources, stories, and encouragement, please visit www.collegecounselorrowley.com