The Smoke Signal

Getting Prepared for College

Gracyn Taylor, Journalist

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There are many students who enter the college application process without all the important knowledge that is needed. They are often stressed when applying for college because they have an abundance of questions about what college is going to be like and what they need to do to get accepted: what schools to apply to, how to apply to schools, what major, what to do to get in to these schools, and how to pay for everything are all common questions that students have when they are preparing for their time at college.

Before going through the application process, many students wonder what they should be doing in order to get accepted to their desired colleges and universities. According to Education, students should have interests outside of academics. They should be as well-rounded as possible and contribute to many things in their community in and out of school.

It is all about being involved in all kinds of different things and getting good grades on top of being involved. The more you can do, the better.

“Make sure you have all of the requirements fulfilled as far as classes needed and also look at activities you’re involved in. It is not just academics, it’s about being well-rounded. I also advise students to also keep a record of everything,” Ripon High teacher Ann Pendleton stated, “I have seen students not taking risks… They say ‘I wish I tried this or that’. I recommend that students get out of their comfort zone and discover something that interests them that could end up making an impact on their future.”

Students should understand that keeping track of everything they have been involved in throughout high school is extremely important because when it comes time to show colleges all of the different things that they have been involved in, it will be difficult to do so without records of what they did an when. They will most likely forget about one or two events that were worked for community service in their freshman year.

“Going through the application process can be tedious so having all materials ready in a folder will help the process,” Ripon High College Counselor Dawn Goudeau stated.

Having an organized binder/folder with everything from transcripts to letters of recommendation and resumes prepared will benefit students when it comes time to apply and show all the things they have been involved in.

“It is a good idea for students, during the summer, to write an essay about themselves. Just a generic essay about themselves that they can edit and use as college entrance essays,” Spanish teacher Jill McPherson stated, “It is also important to research majors and colleges and what different schools offer. Don’t just pick a school for its location”.

Goudeau also advised that doing what is recommended by colleges should almost be a requirement in a student’s mindset. She encourages students to know the college profile and get the best GPA and highest test scores possible. It is also important to do the absolute best on everything before the application process (SAT/ACT, etc.) to ensure the best results. Don’t have the mindset after applying of “what if” and regret not taking a chance of doing better and having a lower risk of nonacceptance. Also be aware of slacking within the Senior year. Many students begin to not care about grades because they have already been accepted, but the reality is if grades are not maintained, acceptance can be revoked. It is important to steer clear of “Senioritis”.

“Preparing for college is not a lot different than preparing to be successful in high school except your parents can’t call your professors to discuss your progress. Students sometimes struggle with the independence because someone isn’t looking over their shoulder every day as in high school. Students need to know how to communicate with professors, how to make appointments, how to take notes, turn in assignments (on time), work in groups, arrive on time to class, and have a laptop/computer because many professors work through online applications,” Goudeau said.

What the different schools have to offer is more important than the location of the school and how fun that college may or may not be. Students should choose a school that they feel will best benefit their education and also where they feel most comfortable. Students will most likely be living on campus or close to it throughout college so they should choose a college in a town in which they enjoy living in.

“I would say visit colleges. Visit not only the college, but the town too and imagine themselves there and think about if it is a good place for them,” teacher and college student Liliana Lozano stated.

It is important to choose a college that not only the student prefers, but one they know will be the best fit for both them and their education.

“Make sure you are applying to schools that offer your major and that it is the “right fit” for you. Research and/or visit your schools of interest in order to visualize yourself there for a minimum of four years. For example, if you don’t like rain don’t apply to Oregon State, if you don’t like snow don’t apply to Montana State, and if your desire is to be a Psychologist, but the college doesn’t offer the major then select another,” Goudeau stated.

McPherson was among one of the teachers who advised students to do their research when it comes to picking a college.

“Be sure to watch for schools that are impacted for certain majors. Do the research and choose a major that is not impacted (Linguistics) and then you can always change your major later once you are in the school,” McPherson said.

It is crucial to begin the application process early. Students should not wait until the last minute to take their SAT/ACT, write entrance essays, do community service, apply, etc. Waiting until right before the application deadline will add unnecessary stress to the process.

“I would recommend that they don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Some students wait until November and then they panic. It is important to get an early start,” Lozano said.

Lozano went on to explain that it is also important to take general education in a student’s first year, just in case they decide to change their major. She also stated that a student changes their major 3 times throughout college on average. She also recommends thinking about the workload, especially if working will be involved on top of school. If students are going to get a job it is a good idea to find one at the university because they will be considerate of students’ school schedules.

It is important to remember to choose a college wisely and ensure it is the best fit. Be sure that it is the perfect mix of fun and intelligence and make good decisions.

“College is a lot of fun and responsibility… You have an opportunity to plan your own schedule and make it work for you. You’ll learn to be careful with money and how to choose your roommates wisely. If you are going to join a Sorority/Fraternity be sure to choose one that is represented well within the community because once you join that is how people will see you… There will be opportunities to meet new people and students can even travel abroad,” Lozano said.

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Getting Prepared for College