Does it seem like everyone else around you is all set with their life’s plans? Does it seem as though you are the only person who has no idea of how to begin your college search process? Or do you sometimes think that it might be best to forgo the college route and just join the Marines? Call yourself normal. Every student and parent with whom I have worked over the past fifteen years in College Coaching has had the same doubts and fears. I will share some of those stories in this book and I promise that all of the stories end well, with students happily settled in college. It is getting there that is hard, more emotionally-charged than anything else.
Getting into College with Julia Ross: Finding the Right Fit and Making it Happen will give you the tools to do just that, and the best part of this book is that it is designed to help all types of students. The process and strategies outlined will work for middle-of-the-road B students, mid-range, struggling C students, and the all-A superstars.
Will all of these students get into Harvard or Yale? Absolutely not. Do they all want to go to Harvard or Yale? Again, absolutely not! We tend to get caught up in the brand name of colleges just as we do in the brand name of cars and clothing. The goal of Getting into College with Julia Ross: Finding the Right Fit and Making it Happen is to help students identify colleges that meet their individual needs (academically, socially, athletically, and financially). Yes, you are in the driver’s seat. You will choose colleges that will fit you! In Chapter 2, you will read about decision criteria, take a survey and develop your very own college list. Chapter 3 will help you understand the Numbers Game: test scores and GPA. It will help you to calibrate your “safety,” “attainable,” and “reach” schools, so that you can develop a realistic list of colleges to visit and to target for submitting applications.
Chapter 5: The Application
The application is your entrance ticket into any college or university that you will consider attending. The application is the first real opportunity that the college admissions office will have to consider your credentials. As outlined below, there are many sections and requirements of these applications. It is important that you carefully complete the applications, making sure to include all of the required components. Over the years, I have seen very qualified students rejected from schools that we were certain were a shoe-in. A closer look always revealed a breakdown in the application process: a messy essay, typographical errors in the application itself, poor editing in the body of the short answer responses, late test scores, transcripts or other required submissions, etc. In your application, you want to show the colleges that you are completely serious about the opportunity and privilege of attending each individual school, that not only will you be an asset to the academic community, but also that you will be honored to attend, if admitted.
The college application process has changed significantly since your parents applied to college. Students are applying to more and more schools, often ten or even more. The applications and their plans have become more detailed. The process is explained below.
The Application Plans
Early Decision: The binding Early Decision application plan allows students to apply to college earlier than “regular” application deadlines, usually between November first and December first . Students may only apply Early Decision to one college or university. Under the Early Decision plan, students may apply to other colleges under regular decision, early action, and rolling plans. If accepted in to Early Decision, a student must withdraw all other applications. Applying under this plan, a student commits to attend the college, if accepted, and to withdraw all other pending applications.
Chapter 10: Show Me the Money!
Don't Believe the Urban Legends!
For some reason, many people do not believe that merit scholarships are available for students with middle class and greater incomes. If you mention that you are considering a merit scholarship, do not be surprised to hear from friends, family, and even professionals that you will not qualify because your parents earn too much money. Let me give you two examples.
I’ll start with Portia whom you have already met. Portia ran into several obstacles on her way to Mary Baldwin College. First, her mother, in an angry rage, tried to cancel Portia’s application to Mary Baldwin. When the admissions officers did not allow that, she threatened to not sign the FAFSA form or any other parental forms that would support Portia’s claim to have been emancipated from her parents. That, of course, did not work either, as Portia had just turned 18 and Mary Baldwin did not require any more information from her parents.
After Portia returned from Mary Baldwin with a merit scholarship and her preliminary ROTC estimate, she and I went to visit her high school guidance counselor to share the great news and to set the wheels in motion to send the requisite secondary school reports to ROTC and Mary Baldwin College. When Portia told her guidance counselor that she had been offered a full scholarship between her ROTC and merit-based award, the guidance counselor pulled a sad face and hit Portia with the bad news. She told Portia that her parents earned “too much money” and that Portia could not qualify for the scholarships without filling out the Federal FAFSA forms. I interjected that Portia had earned a merit-based scholarship and that Mary Baldwin did not require any further income documentation. The guidance counselor went on to explain that ALL financial aid, whether need-based or merit-based required the completion of the Federal forms. I disagreed as courteously as I could, but the guidance counselor refused to accept my explanation.