As you finish up junior year of high school and move into the summer before senior year, your thoughts are likely turning to college applications and their accompanying components: essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation, deadlines…the list goes on and on. Feeling intimidated by the work confronting you? Not sure where to start? Don’t stress – you and your family have plenty of excellent resources at hand to manage this challenging process. Read on to learn more about five ways to get help with college applications.
Where to Get Help with Your College Applications
Since college applications often have multiple parts – not always found in the same place – it’s a good idea to seek help before you get stuck! Wondering who can help you? Start with this list of experts that we’ve put together:
- Your high school guidance counselor.
- Your prospective colleges admissions office
- Your high school teachers
- An educational consultant
Below, we’ll elaborate on each and identify different scenarios where you might choose one over the other.
1. Not Sure Where to Apply? Speak With Your Guidance Counselor
Your guidance counselor can be a great resource for help with the college application process, directing you toward exploration of different colleges based on your interests, both academic and extracurricular. Not sure what those interests are? A guidance counselor can provide a career assessment or other similar survey to help you figure out what to study or which majors are good for desired career paths. Uncertain about where to apply? Your guidance counselor will help you discover which colleges make sense for you based on grades, test scores, and academic and social interests. He or she can direct you to college guidebooks and websites so that you may identify your “best fit” schools, and ones where you may qualify for scholarships and other special programs. Many colleges ask for a letter of recommendation from your school counselor, so make sure you connect with your counselor as soon as you can in your junior or senior year (or earlier!) to make this request
2. Have College Specific Questions? Speak with Your Prospective Colleges Admissions Office
One aspect of the college application process that will become quickly apparent is how different colleges’ applications contain different requirements. Some colleges may ask for letters of recommendation, others will not. Some schools will ask you to self-report your high school transcript, while others will ask your guidance counselor to send an official copy. Some colleges ask for a portfolio for arts or other related majors, and others ask for additional essays. Some require test scores, while others are test-optional or test-blind. Confused about a college’s requirements? Ask admissions! College admissions officers are eager to connect with students and their families. Many provide time for questions during an in-person or virtual information session. Others make themselves accessible via phone, email, text, or even Zoom to happily answer your questions. A few tips for connecting with college admissions staff: check the admissions website to find the name of your region’s representative (or call if you cannot find this easily online). This college rep will best answer any of your questions before and after you submit your application. Many times, he or she will be the one reading your application and making the recommendation to admit you! And, most important, you should be the one contacting colleges, not your parents. Many colleges make note of such contacts.
3. Have a General College Application Question? Ask Your Favorite Teacher
Sometimes, you may just need a little support from a friendly face as you work on college applications. A trusted classroom teacher can be a great resource to help you. Teachers can share their personal experiences, and may even help you decide on a school, especially if you’re looking for a college in the field in which they teach. A favorite teacher can serve as a cheerleader, mentor, and coach as you're applying to college. Don’t overlook this underappreciated – and free – resource!
4. Need Help Improving Your Grades for the College You’re Applying to? A Tutor Can Help
Another overlooked member of your application support team is a tutor! An experienced tutor can offer plenty of college application assistance, especially when it comes to grades and test scores. Have a dream college in mind, but a GPA that doesn’t quite reach the mark for admission? Ask a tutor for help. Stay on top of grades early and proactively – it’s far easier to maintain a solid grade than to remedy a low one. If you know that math has always been a challenge, seek out a good math tutor early on in your course to help explain or reinforce classroom concepts. Additionally, a test prep tutor can help you achieve the scores necessary to get into the college of your dreams. Yes, even in the era of test-optional, test scores are still considered if submitted – and often improve an applicant’s advantage, so put your best foot forward and prepare for your SAT or ACT.
5. Still in the Woods? Look for an Educational Consultant
Another invaluable resource in the college application process is an independent educational consultant. Who – or what – is an educational consultant? A professional – sometimes “certified” – who provides a more individualized approach to college counseling. The best educational consultants also belong to a profession counseling organization, such as IECA, HECA, or NACAC, ensuring that the consultant adheres to high ethical standards and has in-depth knowledge of hundreds of colleges and the college application process. The educational consultant provides 1:1 college counseling specifically targeted to each student’s needs and is an excellent resource for guidance throughout the entire college application process! Educational consultants excel at seeing the “whole picture,” and will help you stay on task as you complete all applications; they’ll answer all your questions about essays, résumés, transcripts, and deadlines. An experienced educational consulting team can provide comprehensive support from start to finish, or targeted assistance for specific college application components.
The college application process may initially seem intimidating, but when you look around, you’ll recognize the plentiful resources surrounding you. Need assistance with any part of college applications, from testing to grades to college lists? Give us a call. Our experienced experts are ready to help you!