Can you believe you have made it this far ? Your son/daughter is ready to start the application process. Let’s get ready. Preparedness is the key to a smooth application process. Each college may have a different set of requirements so it is best to do your research, take notes and gather everything before starting. As with every part of this process, make note of deadlines. At the end of this blog I will provide a picture of our spreadsheet that really helped us keep track of everything. With two going through this at once, I needed it!
Early Decision/Early Action: College Board has an excellent breakdown on the differences between early decision and early action. Make sure you read the article all the way through. Determine ahead of time if your son/daughter wishes to go this route on any of their colleges that offer this option. If it is a yes, make sure to know what that college’s stance is regarding early decision. Is it binding or non-binding? It really matters.
Click here to read about it: Early Decision/Early Action
Transcripts: Research each college on your list for their requirements for your son/daughters transcripts. Can it be added as a pdf to the application? Does it need to be sent via their high school? Does it need to be sent via an intermediary such as Parchment.com?
Because your son/daughter may also be applying for scholarships I highly recommend you obtain an original stamped copy of their transcript. Then save it as a pdf and jpg and it is ready to go should you need it at any time.
Be aware that copies of the transcript, having them sent from the high school and using a service like Parchment.com all carry a cost. Make sure to factor this into your financial decision on the number of college applications for your son/daughter.
Letters of Recommendation: Request letters of recommendations from 2-3 persons. I highly recommend two teachers and one adult outside of the school setting. Think about the colleges your child is applying to, is one of the LOR’s from an alumni? Are the LOR’s pertinent to what your child will be studying in college? Does the LOR address who your child is as student/person?
Since our sons were going for STEM degrees, it only made sense to get LOR’s from their science and math teachers and not their language arts or social studies teachers. Think about that before your child requests the letter. Do NOT wait until the last-minute to request these! There is nothing worse than a quickly written, badly worded LOR.
Resume: Our sons had to prepare a resume as part of their high school requirement. If your son/daughter does not have one, create one. Need help? I recommend hiring someone who knows what they are doing and will ask all the right questions and get all the right information. Will you need a resume for the application? Not usually, however, you will need some of the information you collect and may need one for scholarships.
Basic information you will need to start:
- High School Names (s) and locations
- Emphasis in Study
- Honors Awards
- Extra Curricular Activities (football, band, robotics, drama)
- Positions in Clubs (Secretary, President, etc)
- Volunteer Participation (Boys N Girls club activities, Cancer Center, Relay for Life)
- Work Experience (Pool Attendant, Sales Person, Wait Staff)
Need help? I highly recommend contacting Andrea Cole, Career and Entrepreneur Coach if your son/daughter needs help with a resume. You, your spouse or a friend need help too? She is awesome!
Click on her name above to link to go to her site. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 206-658-7919. Andrea is also on Facebook and Instagram!
Tests Scores: Yes, test scores. ACT/SAT, PSAT and all the other acronyms. Each college will probably ask for the information on the application. Because people can’t be trusted to tell the truth, they will ask for a copy of the scores to be sent from the agency who did the testing (College Board etc). Make sure you know the colleges identifying code to make requesting this information easier. Again, this is another cost to factor into the process.
College Board does have fee waivers available for those that qualify. Click here to see if your son/daughter is eligible. Fee Waivers and Extra Free Reports.
The College Essay: There are so many pages with helpful information. Go and read through a bunch of those before starting the application process. Your son/daughter should be prepared, but so should you. They may ask you questions, they may want you to read through their final version before submission.
Remember what you learned from colleges when you attended Information Sessions earlier in the process. Above all else, be truthful. Yes, people will hire professionals to write them for their child. Parents may write them for their son/daughter. Yes, people will plagiarise. No, you do not want to be that person nor do you want your son/daughter to be that person either. If your son/daughter doesn’t get into a college based on what they wrote, then that college isn’t for them in the first place. No matter how much you may want to be able to say, “my child goes to XXXX”. That’s all I am saying on this subject.
The Talk: Ok, you’ve read through all the information out there. You’ve visited colleges with your son/daughter. You’ve made sure you have all the paperwork ready to go. Did you talk with your son/daughter again? Seriously?!?! Before they start the long and laborious process of filling out all these applications and you shell out all the money for them, talk to your child. Are they truly ready for college? Are you/they getting swept up in the excitement, but ignoring the fact that they are just trying to make you happy?
Really talk with your son/daughter. Go out to lunch. Talk one-on-one. Do they want to do this or have they changed their mind? Are they serious about each college on their list? Are they wanting to apply to any because you want them to? Or are they applying because their friend or boyfriend/girlfriend is applying? This process isn’t cheap. Don’t start if they aren’t really ready or wanting to move to a completely different state for four years.
No, our sons did not apply to our alma maters and we were ok with that. They didn’t apply to all of the same colleges because their twin wanted to. They applied to colleges that they would want to attend. Yes, they did apply to a couple of colleges that waived their application fee, but they met their overall criteria. No, they did not apply to all the colleges that waived the application fee and offered them free tuition to attend, not if they didn’t fit into our sons list of what they wanted and where they were willing to live.
Are they still ok with applying to college? Yes? Go for it!
The Application: Now you should have just about everything ready. Remember to know each colleges application process.
Is it traditional? You apply directly on the college website. Or is it part of a multi-college application process? From College Board here is a breakdown of these types of applications: Taking advantage of the Coalition, Common, and Universal Applications
Applications for college are not quick and easy. Don’t decide that you are going to help your son/daughter in between soccer practice and the latest episode of “Survivor”. Take your time. Be complete and thorough. You can and should save an application and then go back and review it before submitting it to the college.
My suggestion? Complete the multi-college applications first and remember to note what you may need to send to each individual college by itself. Then work on the traditional applications.
We took a good week to work through the list. Remember to check each college for scholarships that your son/daughter may qualify and note when those will need to be completed. For example, will your son/daughter be considered an out-of-state student? Ours were for their application to Purdue. They list a scholarship specific to out-of-state students and we made sure to apply on time.
Once all your applications are complete, celebrate! You’ve made it this far!
Our Application Spreadsheet
As promised, above is our application spreadsheet. Note that we also used it to record each student ID # and password for any given college once the application is submitted. Your son/daughter will need this for reference and follow-up. We also included all the information our sons would need. Seriously, how many of your kids know their SS# by heart?
Remember that accordion file we used in Step 3…Narrowing the Field? We got rid all the information from the other colleges. Now we had space for two files for each college that made the final cut. In the front of the file went our spreadsheet. When things were submitted a note was placed into that colleges file. If there was an email, that was saved. Follow-up is easier if you have everything in hand!
Now….get going people! Good luck!