Sultan: A Parent’s Guide to the Crazy World of Today’s College Applications – St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Team Cansler

Having gone through the college application process twice in so many years, I feel compelled to warn parents – things have changed dramatically since we applied to schools.

At that time, I applied to two private universities and sent my test results and transcripts to the main public agency in my state. That was enough for admission and a scholarship at the state school. My son, who also applied to the same university, had to fill out a detailed general application along with several supplemental essays. Prospective students now apply to an average of six universities. It’s way more competitive and a ton more work than it used to be.

I learned some things I wish I had known earlier in the game. For parents and students still running that gauntlet, here are my top tips for making this time a little less stressful than it usually is:

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1. Start early. Start making a list of colleges in the summer before your senior year. Around this time, start brainstorming some essay ideas for your personal statement. The fall semester of senior year is a busy time for students. The earlier you start, the less stress you will experience before deadlines.

2. Get ready to write. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is the amount of writing required as part of job applications. Many selected schools require additional essays and short answers in addition to the personal statement. Applying for scholarships requires even more essays. Try writing for free for five minutes for each of the questions to help overcome writer’s block.

3. Love your safety school. It is important to have at least one substitute school that you know will accept and that you would be happy to attend. While most elite colleges have reduced their acceptance rates to the low single digits, the majority of colleges are still accepting the most students. Find at least one from this group and focus on the reasons why you would like to go there.

4. Expect some parental involvement. Most public school counselors are responsible for so many students that they don’t have time to offer much one-on-one help. Ask a parent or legal guardian to review or proofread essays and each section of the general application before submitting it.

5. Ask teachers early for recommendations. Some get overwhelmed with requests and have to set deadlines to give them enough time to write all those letters.

6. Learn the jargon. There are so many different types of admissions – early decision, early action, limited early action, early intervention of choice, regular decision and continuous admission. If you are not necessarily committed to a school, take advantage of early action, regular or ongoing admissions.

7. Indecisive is okay. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to study, what job you want to do or where you actually want to study. Unless you’re applying to a highly specialized program, writing an essay on an area of ​​interest or ticking the box for a major doesn’t mean you’re committed. Many students find the answers to these questions on the side or explore a new career path after high school.

8th. Have an answer ready. Expect people to start asking where you go to college before you even submit a single application. It is important that parents respect their children’s privacy. Ask what information they like to share and get a standard answer.

9. Money is important. Be open about what you can afford. Be realistic about loans and what it means to borrow large sums of money for a bachelor’s degree, especially if you plan to study in an area with lower starting salaries.

10 Make a calendar. With so many deadlines, including those for financial aid forms like FAFSA and CSS, create a calendar and share the deadlines with your parents. Break down the application process into smaller steps, e.g. B. Filling out general information, creating a resume, creating an activity list, brainstorming the personal essay, getting recommendations, and putting together additional essays. There’s a lot of demographic and information needed by any college, even if you’re using the Common App.

11. normalize rejection. A rejection is to be expected as many more students are applying to more universities. Acceptance rates at highly selective schools are lower than ever. Rejection should be a normal and expected part of the process. Colleges turn away many talented students, and some of the criteria are completely out of your control.

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