How to navigate the college application process


Kylie Ilhardt

College pennants that are displayed in the guidance office as motivation to students.

As seniors wave goodbye to their last high school summer, they now face the extensive, often exhausting, college application process. From test scores to community service hours to lengthy college essays, it takes significant perseverance to apply to your dream colleges.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the college application process.

1. Plan ahead.
The most important item on your college application is your transcript. Transcripts contain details on a students complete high school academic history, including GPA, class rank, all standardized tests, ethnicity and final semester grades. You can get an unofficial copy of your transcript for you to review to ensure all of the information is correct. Once you have looked over your transcript, you can send official transcripts to universities. The form to order unofficial and official transcripts can be found in the guidance office.

2. Even if you have low SAT and ACT scores, you can still get into college.
It is important to take these tests more than once. After the college admissions’ scandal, universities put less emphasis on test scores when deciding to admit a student. Even so, students should still prepare for standardized tests by using preparation books, free school resources like Khan Academy and online practice tests.

3. A strong resume could get you into your dream college.
Building your resume is essential in the college application process because resumes give colleges the opportunity to learn about you as a person and community member. Colleges want to know your interests, passions, achievements and contributions to your community. It is also very important to keep a well organized list of your honors and awards because colleges want to see what you have achieved.

“The college application process should start as early as freshman year because it’s a culmination of what a student does both academically and beyond the classroom,” guidance counselor Cindy Ferrara said.

4. Picking schools.
It is important for you to spend time on college websites and read about what exactly they are looking for on your application. Many factors should influence your college decision like the number of undergraduate students, the majors the school offers and the presence of athletics as a part of daily life. The internet can show you images of schools, but if you get the opportunity to go visit colleges in person, do it. Going on official tours of colleges will give you a firsthand look at schools, and the opportunity to ask current students questions. It is important to get a feel of where you may be living for the next 4 years.

5. Meeting with college representatives
Jupiter High School gives students the opportunity to meet with college representatives when they come to school. The college representatives that visit JHS are usually admissions representatives, which means they review college applications for their school. Meeting with these representatives also gives students a look into what programs their college has to offer.
“I think most students don’t know that the college reps that come to Jupiter High, do have a say in college admission to that specific school. For a student to attend the college visit at school, it shows the college reps that you are interested in the school and took time to get some more information on the school,” Ferarra said.

6. Getting letters of recommendation
Some colleges may require you to submit letters of recommendation from your guidance counselor and past teachers. The best way to get a good letter of recommendation from a teacher is to go find them in person and ask if they will help you. Teachers are absolutely not required to write you a letter of recommendation, so if they do you should be grateful. To get a letter or recommendation from your guidance counselor, pick up a “Request for Recommendations—Student Profile” form from the guidance office and return it after you have filled it out. After two weeks, go back to the guidance office to get your recommendation.

Even though this process is stressful, remain positive, and remember it will be over quickly if you follow these tips.