If you wagered $100 on the roll of a dice, what kind of pay-off would you hope for? Six-to-one seems pretty fair, considering you have a one-in-six chance of wagering correctly. So if you wager $100 that a dice will land on six in order to win $600 dollars, you’re getting an even deal. Even if it doesn’t go your way, you’ve made a reasonable wager.
Applying to college is no more than a roll of the dice. You put yourself out there in order to gain admission some percentage of the time, say 20% for some of the more selective institutions.
So you got deferred, wait-listed, or maybe even rejected. It wasn’t the result you had hoped for. But you gave yourself a shot, and what did you lose? The application fee, sure even the time to fill out the application. But what it really comes down to is the emotional investment.
So does rolling a one when you’ve bet on six.
It happens. More often than not. It is a reality of college admissions that almost all of us deal with. Unless you’ve got the next cancer cure or are five generations from Papua New Guinea, you will deal with it too.
Keep on rolling that die. What you stand to lose is nothing compared to what you stand to gain. Re-work that application essay, polish your supplements, and most importantly have confidence in the fact that everything will work out in the end. The more times you roll that dice, the better chance you have at winning the experience of a lifetime.
The college application process is a two way street. While it seems like colleges have the power because decide whether or not to let you in, remember that you have the power to decide where to apply in the first place. This is where the “Why <Insert College Name>” essay comes into play. Essentially, colleges want to make sure that you are picking them for the right reason. Even if they want you in their college, admissions officers are often wary of applicants that cannot express an interest in a particular institution. Here are a few pointers for writing the “Why” essay.
- Include academics: Remember that the reason for going to college is to get a degree. You don’t have to focus your essay around academics, but it is important to mention that the academic rigor is important to you.
- Learn about the university’s culture: Just as your personality is important to them, their personality should be important to you. Whether the school has a ton of school spirit, focuses on building faculty/student relations, or teaches the importance of giving back, it is important for you to understand and agree with the school’s culture.
- Details. Details. Details: The more specific you can be with concrete examples, the more the school will know that you did your research before applying. It is fine to reference certain clubs you are interested in or a major concentration that is unique to that school.
- Set goals for yourself: Colleges ask this question to see where you will fit into the school. Lay out some goals for how you will fit in and be involved on campus. Talk about how you want to take a club to the next level or take on a leadership role on a sports team.
The most important part of this essay is to prove to the university that you have put time into making sure that the college is a good fit for you. They are trying to envision you on campus and how you will add the school. If the school is truly a good fit for you, then this essay should be a breeze.
So you’ve sent in your applications, crossed your fingers, and gotten into multiple schools. The ball is in your court and you have plenty of possible options. What do you do now?
- Take a deep breath: This is an important and exciting time. The worst thing you can do is to rush into a decision. You usually have at least a month to make this choice, so don’t feel too pressured and make rash decisions.
- Figure out what is important: If you haven’t done so already, sit down and figure out what you want out of a college. How important are things like location (city vs. rural), Greek life, or housing situation? Once you have a better idea for what you want out of your college experience, the easier the decision will be.
- Don’t forget why you are going to college: Academics should carry the heaviest weight when deciding where to go. Obviously it is not everything, but always remember that you are going to school to get an education (sorry about channeling your parents there).
- Don’t worry about the money (yet): The cost of a college is very important, but not at this stage. Typically, the colleges that cost the most also give out the most money in financial aid. Until you find out exactly how much money you will pay out of your pocket, do not factor this into your decision.
- Get information: After you set your priorities for exactly what you are looking for, seek out information. Talk to your school’s college advisor, find alumni or current students, and reach out to admissions directors at the universities. All of these people are great resources to give you a better idea of what the experience is all about.
- Make the decision: Don’t wait until the very last day to make your decision. Your research should be done with plenty of time to spare. This is an important decision so put in the time necessary to be confident with which college you choose.
Let’s say you know all about your dream school. You’ve gotten the acceptance email you’ve been waiting for, and it’s time to enroll. Only now do you take the time to look at fees and tuition with a critical eye. How can anyone afford college? With the average cost of college in the United States rising to $35,000 according to US News & World Report, it’s time to look into the stream of free money moving all around you.
Many top universities have started a bidding war of sorts for the best talent in their incoming classes. It is becoming the norm in Ivy League-caliber institutions that families with yearly incomes around $60,000 should not expect to pay any expenses relating to tuition or room and board. Families at a salary cap of $100,000 are often not expected to contribute to tuition expenses. If you’re fortunate enough to benefit from these programs, you are well on your way to coming out of college without significant financial burden.
Regardless of programs like those mentioned above, certain sources of scholarship money are always available. Apply to as many individual programs as possible, as these funds add up to take some of the financial burden off of your back. Companies like Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Microsoft all offer yearly programs but that’s barely scratching the surface. There are literally millions of dollars available to those who ask for it. Smaller scholarships (usually under $2000) often have less competition, so you are more likely to get those. So what are you waiting for? Start looking!
Hello again! We’ve been in contact with several students from the Zawadi Education Fund through the efforts of our editor Isabel Lopez, who spent her summer in Kenya with the students (see this blog post). Currently, we’re providing essay review services for them free of charge in the hopes that they have the best chance to get into the school of their choice. We hope you’ve been thinking about your essays as well!
Special thanks to Isabel!
So it’s time to go back to school. Once you figure out which schools take which AP credits, you’ll catch on to the classes in which it behooves you to do well. Extracurriculars, sports, clubs and the like are also picking up large portions of your time and it’s easy to forget about the application process at this point. I’ve seen so many peers wait until the last possible minute to start working on their applications; I’m guilty of this one too. The best step right now is to set yourself up for a relatively stress-free fall by putting a little bit of time in. What will help you a LOT later on is an application “cheat-sheet”. This is a document that chronicles all of your accomplishments and will prove invaluable as you try to list all of your involvements and awards. Whenever you remember of something from freshman year, or when you win that big arts prize in the next couple months, this is where you log that information. In addition to making an application “cheat-sheet”, it will also benefit you later on to start thinking of an essay topic. This is of utmost importance, because it will serve as the most personal aspect of your application as a whole. Sure, it speaks a lot to be part of the football team and be in the fall play, but this will be your chance to show colleges who you really are. Take advantage of it. The essay topic is worth writing volumes about, so it will come in the next update.
- Get a Common Application account (https://www.commonapp.org/Application/RegisterApplicant.aspx)
- Make an application “cheat sheet” listing all the deadlines, required materials, and anything else you need to track for each school
- Start thinking of some essay topics or stories that reveal unique aspects of your personality. Consider keeping a small journal of ideas
Just wanted to take the opportunity to talk about a fantastic opportunity for our editors to give back in a meaningful way. Isabel Lopez, an editor here at SalmonEdit, is working in Kenya with the Zawadi Africa Education Fund. The program helps girls from underprivileged backgrounds prepare for the SAT and who subsequently apply for college in the United States. Our editors are in a great position to offer guidance and essay review services free of charge. The founding membership has decided to become involved, and it is our sincerest hope that our editors will consider doing the same. If you would like to get involved, feel free to send me an email at Roberto@salmonedit.com! Best wishes to Isabel and her students!
After you are accepted to a college, you may be tempted to forget all your worries and fall into to a work-free lifestyle. However, a college has the right to rescind an applicant it has admitted, taking back their offer of enrollment. How often does this happen and what are the circumstances that can lead to your rescission from a college?
Statistics vary from school to school, and it is often very difficult to use them to determine your particular situation. The crux of the issue is that the school doesn’t want a “lemon”. They want you as you were when you applied and were accepted, not after a decline in your grades or performance. If you were a straight A student, barring extenuating circumstances, your average shouldn’t drop to a B or C. Even performance in a particular class can be a red flag for certain schools. For example, we’ve seen peers get “warning” letters for a B in one particular class, regardless of the fact that it was a religious studies class that had no transferable merit.
We don’t intend to scare you with this news. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and as editors we would be disappointed if all that work went to waste. Just put the work in and scoop up those transferrable credits.
You’re in! Congratulations! Now what?
Now what? It’s time to celebrate with your friends and family. For some of you, this may be the first time a member of your family is going to college, or to an Ivy-League caliber institution. Enjoy it, bask in it. In a very limited respect, college is what your past few years of schooling have been geared towards. Don’t go overboard though; sending a misdemeanor charge to the dean of admissions at BYU isn’t exactly going to draw praise.
Despite having to put forth the same academic effort, there are things that can make your transition into college easier if you do them now. First, check to see if your new school accepts Advanced Placement Credit. There is little use in taking an AP test if the credit will not apply to your collegiate studies. This information is often found on the registrar page of the university website.
Secondly, browse the school’s pre-orientation opportunities. Oftentimes, schools will offer transition programs and pre-orientation events that can give students an advantage of sorts. These range from engineering workshops to camping trips and can potentially put you in contact with older students and professors (both valuable connections that will help later on).
Lastly, focus on what you’ll be doing during the summer (or year) between high school and college. Many students will take this time to relax, but future employers will value job experience accrued during this period. Consider joining a community service project or taking on a work experience that will be lucrative or valuable to you.
It’s about that time. You’re less than a year away from sending in all your applications. Now you just need to figure out where to send them.
Now… where to start? Try answering the following three questions:
- What do you want to study? This is the most important question you can ask yourself. You’re going to college to have a good time and grow as a person, but most importantly you’re going to gain a meaningful and valuable education. It is important you find a school that offers many programs that may interest you. In my experience, most students change their mind or just don’t know what they want to study when they start their freshman year. So start by identifying the subject you would most enjoy studying. Find schools which have strong or interesting programs in this subject. Then you can look at other offerings at these schools to figure out some other interests. Narrow your list down from these schools as you see fit.
- Where do you want to study? Many students want to restrict their college selection to a certain geographical area. Maybe you don’t want to go to far from home, or if you’re like me maybe you want to get as far away as possible. Either way, you’re going to want to weed out the schools which are in areas that just don’t appeal to you, and maybe add some which do.
- What size student body do you want? One of the key defining features of an undergraduate experience is the student body size. A large state school offers the benefit of many new faces and dynamic communities. You can meet someone new every day of your college career if you wanted to. In other words, it’s unlikely you’re not going to find your niche at such a school. However, a smaller school may be more your thing. You may not have the freedom of going out and meeting new people every day, but there is certainly a greater sense of community in such a smaller setting. Whichever you prefer, be sure to incorporate this into your selection of colleges.
These questions should be enough to get you started on the right track. You can use sites like www.collegeprowler.com and www.collegeconfidential.com to gain more insight into the life of a student on college campuses. Good luck!