In This Issue:
As the calendar turns from December 2011 to January 2012, you no doubt have all kinds of resolutions—No. 1 on the list: get your college applications in the mail. Many schools—especially the respected ones—require your regular admission application (not early admission) to be completed by January of your high school senior year. In the days before your deadline, here are some last-minute tips:
Spelling Counts. If you really want to get into a college, then make sure you spell the school’s name correctly. Double and triple check the punctuation and spelling on your application, and pay attention to details. The smallest error could cost you an admissions ticket.
Check the Checklist. When is financial aid information due? Did you remember to send your school transcripts and recommendations? Did you forget to finish filling in an answer on your application? College applications come with lots of requirements—make sure you meet them all before you drop the apps in the mail.
Stand Out. Determined not to get lost in the shuffle of essays and admissions ink? Avoid fancy fonts and hot pink type in your effort to stand out. Instead, make sure you are thorough, accurate and, above all, honest. Admissions officers can detect a snow job a mile away. Be yourself and represent your best qualities, and you will be on the right path to acceptance.
Plan Ahead. If you are reading this before your senior year, then don’t wait until the last minute to submit your applications! Get them in during the first few months of your senior year. Admissions officers receive a deluge of applications on or around the January deadlines. Why not submit your application earlier, in November or December, and possibly get it in decision-makers’ hands when they only have a handful to read, rather than a boxful?
Once you mail your applications, the waiting begins. In the best-case scenario, you will receive several overstuffed envelopes starting with the word, “Congratulations,” on April 1. You typically have a month to decide where you want to go to college. Need a little help making that choice? Check out how these college freshmen, all past New Jersey high school students, made their decisions:
Peter Mantia: “I wanted to be an anesthesiologist since my sophomore year in high school.”
Rutgers College freshman Peter Mantia, a graduate of Pope John XXIII in Newton, majors in biochemistry. “I wanted to be an anesthesiologist since my sophomore year in high school. Rutgers has the best program for my field.” Peter, a drummer, says he’ll eventually minor in music. “Even if I wanted to change my major, they have so many different classes I know I wouldn’t have to look for another college. Rutgers is so big and it’s not too far from home, but I didn’t want to be in my backyard.”
Samantha Gibble: “It’s known for the outdoors and it’s gorgeous.”
Samantha Gibble, a graduate of Ridgewood High, attends Ithaca College in New York. “When I visited, I really liked the school, the atmosphere. It’s known for the outdoors and it’s gorgeous. That’s what attracted me. I was going to be a theater major, but when I looked into the communications program, that’s what made me want to come here. My major is geared toward event planning. The communications department here has so many opportunities and internships.”
Ben Lackey: “I felt I should go to a school that was well known for a certain major.”
Ben Lackey went from Seton Hall Prep in West Orange to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “I chose it for the location and smaller size, about 4,500 undergrads. My major is food marketing. I originally considered architecture but I changed my mind. I still liked the creative side and wanted to combine it with business, so I knew that marketing would be good for me. I liked St. Joe’s by looking at it. I felt I should go to a school that was well known for a certain major, and St. Joe’s is known for marketing. I started my own company, Benjamin Lackey Multimedia.”
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People’s “View All” feature and selecting “Shannon Noonan.”
During your junior year of high school, you should start to get serious about the college process—researching, exploring and, ultimately, applying. The good news is that the U.S. has some 5,000 colleges and universities from which to choose. The right one is out there for you! You will also find lots of resources. For instance, the New York Times ran this blog over the holidays from a teen trying to decide about her college direction: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/rachel-yang/. College websites feature similar blogs from existing students writing about their experiences on campus.
Colleen Fuller, director of undergraduate admissions at William Paterson University in Wayne, offers the following advice on choosing a college:
1. Look at location. Do you like:
• Small town, big city or suburban environment?
• Private or public school?
• To live on campus or commute?
• Large university or small college?
• Small classes and lots of personal attention or getting lost in the crowd?
2. Best way to learn? Visit the campus.
• Take virtual tours from home.
• Go to open houses to help narrow your selection.
• Get an emotional connection when you set foot on the campus that’s meant for you.
• Set up interviews with admissions counselors at your favorite schools.
• Ask questions to learn more about your top choices.
• Don’t select a school because “my friend is going there” or based on a fancy website or slick brochure.
3. Research selections:
• Visit http://collegeview.com or http://collegeconfidential.com.
• Look at cost. Is it within your family’s budget? Graduating college with huge debt is not the way the go.
• Find colleges, like William Paterson, that offer scholarships, resident grants and other awards.
• Apply to up to five colleges.
4. New Jersey's NJ Next Stop website (http://njnextstop.org) offers a variety of resources to help you in your college selection, including www.petersons.com with colleges by state and by major listings, as well as several "Featured Colleges" and Step-by-Step College Planning Timelines. Additionally, Braintrack Career Resources (braintrack.com/colleges-by-career) can help you check out career options and find schools. Mymajors.com can help you decide which major is right for you.
5. Final Decision upon admission:
• Don’t feel pressured. Make a deposit by May l.
• Does the school offer an overnight program? At William Paterson, student hosts pair up with admitted students in a Pioneer Overnight Program.
6. Have fun. Don’t stress. You will find a college and you will be happy.
Thinking four years of college after high school isn’t for you? Great news…you have options! Answer True or False to the following five questions and then check out the answers at the bottom of the page. You may discover the right fit for your future.
1. Some 40% of students who start college don’t graduate from the same school.
True or False?
2. Pursuing a career in the trades—like construction or bricklaying—means that much of your education is free.
True or False?
3. Hamburger University is a school that SpongeBob SquarePants attends.
True or False?
4. A gap year always means you get to hang out with friends and party after you graduate from high school.
True or False?
5. Two years at a more affordable community college before transferring to a four-year institution to complete your degree can be a valuable option.
True or False?
1. True. Either students choose a college that is not the right fit, or they go on to a four-year college after high school because they feel they have to—instead of exploring their options.
2. True. Apprentices do not pay for their education. The cost is covered by special training funds set up by each trade union. Apprentices only pay for their tools.
3. False. Hamburger University is the training center for McDonald’s managers and is known for its high quality leadership development.
4. False. A gap year, which means you take a year off between high school and the real world, is a great time to enrich your life through travel, work and internships in order to figure out how you want to proceed with your future.
5. True. Community college is a terrific option, and New Jersey has 19 of them. Also, if you are able to get good grades at community college, you can get academic scholarships once you transfer.
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “What’s Next…Figuring Out Your Future.”