Preparing for College

Last-Minute College Applications

Okay, high school seniors. So it's almost December. Are you planning on going to college? If so, here's a dumb question for you: Have you applied anywhere yet? To answer all you procrastinators out there, yes, I know that for a lot of colleges you have until January 1, February 1, or even later to apply, thanks to so-called "rolling admissions." However, maybe the more penetrating question is: Do you know where you want to apply? Figuring out your list of candidate colleges can sometimes be much harder than the actual application process itself.

A brief sidebar: Have you heard about SuperMatch? If not, click that link and prepare yourself to be amazed at how easy the college search has become. As it says on its home page, SuperMatch "utilizes a "fuzzy" approach to ranking your preferences. That way, not only do you get a list of schools that match your needs perfectly, but you'll also see the ones that come close." If you haven't started thinking about your college process yet by this point in your high school career, that keyword "fuzzy" may also apply to your overall thought process (or even your grades!).

Anyway, Ever notice how quickly deadlines sneak up on us? The older we get, the faster they appear. Think back to when you were in first grade. Remember how it seemed like Christmas would never arrive? Well, you're in high school now; apparently every milestone is just around the corner. If you're a senior, there's a very big deadline looming: your decision about college.

Maybe you've put off thinking about what to do, where to go, how to pay, and all those other key issues involved in the college search and planning process. If you have, then it's time to take a deep breath and make some hard choices. Now! These issues don't just take care of themselves. You and your family have to do something about them.

If you haven't already done so, how can you get started? The best place is in your high school guidance office. Sitting there right now are two key ingredients to making college decisions: your guidance counselor and a pile of books and materials about college. You must talk to your counselor and you must read some material. You must also get your family involved in the college search and planning process. It's a team sport.

Here's a rough timetable of events for those of you who haven't yet done any planning or choices about college. It's now the end of November of your senior year. That's pretty darn late to start thinking about college. But it's not too late. Your counselor has probably spoken to you on more than one occasion asking you what your thoughts are about college. If you have so far been undecided, make a resolution to start making some decisions.

Talk to your counselor as soon as possible. If you really want to go to college, come up with a minimum of three college choices. Make certain your family is totally involved in your selection process. Check the entrance requirements of the colleges you've chosen. Obviously, they're going to have some guidelines; make sure your profile fits theirs.

Now you've got the ball rolling. Don't panic. There is still enough time for you to make the right choices about college. Again, remember to talk to your counselor, read the resource materials, keep your family involved with every step you take, and don't forget SuperMatch!

I'm willing to bet that if you get started with this process--even today with SuperMatch--you can have your Common Application ready to go out to some reasonably well-considered colleges within the next two weeks. Of course, if you haven't met the testing requirements (SATs,ACTs, Subject Tests, etc.) then you could be up the proverbial waterway without a means of propulsion, if you get my drift. However, there's even a way around test requirements: the so-called "test-optional" colleges. These are schools that don't require you to submit standardized test scores (SATs,ACTs, Subject Tests, etc.). Here's where to find those schools. This could be the key that unlocks college doors for you.

So, there you have it--a brief strategy for overcoming your procrastination in regards to what may be one of the most important decisions of your young life. Well? What are you waiting for?!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.