How to Successfully Transition to College
Transitioning to College
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. ~Robert Frost
So you have spent time on the internet searching colleges, winnowed down a workable list, visited your top schools, and come up with a short list of prospective colleges. Now it's time to start filling out college applications. The next stretch of time will be busy, hectic, and challenging but remember to stay organized while keeping on top of your normal class schedule.
Our recommendation is to complete the college applications on your list early in your senior year. This will allow the college to match all other supporting information (ie. grades, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, school recommendations) with your open admission folder. Most colleges and universities require an application fee to accompany the application itself so plan ahead and budget accordingly.
Completing the College Application
It is worth noting as you get going with your college applications to take the time and read the instructions carefully. By taking a few extra minutes to really understand the question at hand, you will save yourself a considerable amount of time and dramatically increase your chances of receiving positive news from the school. Be vigilant when completing the forms and essay portions of the application. Read, re-read, spell check, proofread, and then finalize your application before considering it complete.
When construction the essay portion of the application, remember to be sincere and articulate your thoughts in a clear manner which will most often lead to creative, unique essays worth reading. Being true to your unique self will help you better stand out in a crowded pack and give you a wonderful platform to talk about specific personal events during the interview process.
As stated earlier, nearly all college applications have migrated from paper to digital. There are two important services- The Universal College Application and The Common Application that may be available to help streamline the process and fill out a single application instead of completing multiple forms.
Submitting Standardized Test Scores
As part of the application process, the responsibility is on you to provide any/all necessary standardized test scores to the college or university. While the standardized test scores are often sent with your transcripts, official scores are sent by ACT or The College Board directly to the college as a means to validate the information submitted.
During the registration of the standardized test, you will want to complete the forms to request The College Board or ACT to send along your scores to specific colleges of your choosing. Additional test score forms can be picked up from your school's guidance counselor, as needed. Make an extra effort to use the exact same information from form to form to avoid any issues or delays in the process with the ACT or The College Board.
Sending Your Transcripts
Your transcripts and/or school records are part of what is known as secondary school reports which are a core feature of you college submission. Your school will likely have specific processes around this so ask your counselor to provide specific information to ensure a clean hand-off to the colleges of your selection. Just as colleges have moved from paper applications to digitized applications, many high schools have shifted from paper to digital secondary school reports. The most popular programs, Naviance, allows for the digital transmission of grades, transcripts, and the like directly to colleges to streamline their side of the process.
Involving Your Current Teachers
It is very likely you will ask for input and advice from your teachers to complete your college application. It is also likely a college or university will ask for teacher recommendations to add to round out your application. Make sure to be courteous and ask early in the school year, leaving plenty of time for your teacher to complete the recommendation. Your request should provide specific information such as which school you are applying to, if there are guidelines with the letter of recommendation, along with instructions on how to send the letter to the college to ensure it gets married up with your ever-growing admission folder. It speaks volumes to your teachers if you keep them involved in the application process and give them updates as new information becomes available.
As we have discussed, the most crucial part of the application process is the piece that is in your control: your grades. Stay focused on your academics - strive to stay on top of homework and tests regardless of the college application continuum. Once the colleges begin to communicate with you and provide formal decisions, carve out some time to figure out which schools are in your first tier and which ones no longer make the cut. From your primary choices, narrow the list to the best option and send in the deposit. As a courtesy to the other colleges, let them know once you have made your final decision so they can extend an opportunity to another prospective student.
Additional College Resources
For additional resources, make sure to visit our online degree platform or college search portal to utilize our automated matching system. Both pieces of technology allow you to narrow down your school search to include a specific city, state, size, type, degree, and/or program. We also offer a variety of free publications such as our Career Guides, College Admissions Guide, Crush the Odds, and Guide to Reduce the Cost of College.