Thursday, April 19, 2012

The College Application Process

This is the first in a series that I will be posting in the next week regarding College Admissions and things to consider as you prepare for College....Enjoy!

The senior year of high school is a year of wonder and experiences. For many, it is also a year of fear and anticipation, especially in regard to the mystical vale of secrecy behind the college application review process.

Using my previous experience as a Director of Admissions at the University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc and an Admissions Counselor for Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), I will try to demystify this process and give you some helpful hints.

Most application materials for universities include an:

1. Application
2. Application fee
3. Official High School transcript
4. Test Scores (ACT or SAT)
5. List of extracurricular activities
6. Essay (recommended usually, but required for some), and
7. Letters of recommendation (recommended usually, required for some).

When preparing to apply to schools it is a good idea to have these seven organized so that they are easy to retrieve. Doing this will lessen the burden when you do apply.

Most colleges/universities will have deadlines by which materials must be postmarked. Some make decisions on applications between certain dates. Some are “open,” accepting and making decisions on applications year round. Check deadlines with colleges and make sure you meet those deadlines. Only after all materials are received can the admissions review begin.

The review process usually will constitute a thorough read by an admissions officer, many times one who is assigned to your high school or district/regional area. This person will look at everything you send and evaluate you on these materials. Each university/college has their own unique system that they use to evaluate students. Some use a point system where you will receive points for varying criteria such as academic rigor, involvement, GPA, test scores, etc. Many specialty schools (e.g. Kendall College of Art & Design, Center for Creative Studies) expect certain academic criteria, but they base a large part o their admission decision on the talents or abilities that a student brings to that certain area.

On a final note, the review methods used by a college/university many times are veiled in secrecy, where generality is key and little detail surfaces if not inquired about. Also, the review methods today merely scratch the surface of the types of evaluation instruments that colleges/universities use today. Saying this, I advise you all to inquire about the particular review process that you college of choice uses. This will ease confusion and tension and make you the information-savvy customer.

By taking little steps toward understanding and making yourself informed, the admission process at a college/university becomes known, and the mystery within the process begins to wane. Become informed and you will not be sorry.

If you have any questions about this or other topics, feel free to contact me at and I will do my best to answer the questions you have.


Mrs4444 said...

Please add commentary on when you should start this process. Kyle is starting his junior year; do we have another year to worry about it, or not? I guess it doesn't hurt to start investigating now...

Mrs4444 said...

Found my answer in the terrific links you have posted; I got lost in those links for about an hour. This is important stuff. Thanks again for the guidance. Expect to hear from me on this topic again...

drmamontgomery said...

Excellent advice for students and their parents who are going through this process for the first time. No doubt the process can be very opaque.

Dad of Divas said...

Barb, I think you gave me another great topic to talk about...thanks for the idea!

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