The admissions process
at any college can be a confusing and difficult process to navigate.
Here are just a few tips that can help make your experience with the
admissions process a little easier.
What Tests to Take & When to Take Them
When you have identified
the colleges that are potentially right for you, plan to visit each
- Try not to visit
all the colleges at one time, because you may find later that memories
will blur together and make them hard to distinguish later on.
- You may also want
to check to see if the colleges are scheduled to have an Open House
to take notes during your visits.
You'll want to think
through what you want to accomplish while making a campus visit.
- An interview with
a member of the admissions staff?
- A class visit?
- A campus tour?
- A meeting with
a friend who is a student there?
- A talk with a faculty
member in your field of interest?
- A beginning discussion
with a financial aid representative?
- A meeting with
a coach or the head of the marching band?
Always remember that
the admissions office can help you in setting up your visit and schedule.
Some simple rules
- Be prepared. Bring
your resume and unofficial high school transcript. Read and look
at all the college information before the interview. Know the parts
of the catalog that pertain to your proposed course of study, and
get the opinions of present students and alumni of the college.
- The interview
is a conversation. The interview is a time for you to
learn about the college and for the college to learn about you.
The interviewer will probably ask you about favorite courses and
activities, what you enjoy during free time, perhaps even your
favorite music or sports figures. Remember to engage in the conversation
with interest and full communication, giving insight into who you
- Ask qualitative
questions. Questions that merely ask for facts, for example,
the library size, whether or not there are internships in Germany,
etc., are answered in the catalog. They don't add much to the conversation
and may indicate you have not done your homework. Some of the questions
you ask will link back to your self assessment. You will want to
know how your values, interests, talents, and personality will
fit in at a particular college. College admissions officers call
this the match between you and the college. Explore the match during
- Dress appropriately
and look the interviewer in the eye. Appropriate dress
is not formal, but it is not informal either. Above all, be sure
to be neat in appearance. Shake the interviewer's hand firmly.
Look the person in the eye when speaking. Be natural and consider
your interview an opportunity to present your special traits, your
academic ability, and your unique talents. Remember to ask for
the interviewer's card when you are done, and send a thank you
Remember that in every
part of the application process you are presenting yourself. It is
important to keep yourself organized during the application process.
There is usually a lot of paper work to keep straight, and if you've
chosen to apply to multiple colleges it may be a good idea to keep
a folder for each of them.
There will be several
steps required to complete an application to any school, but one of
the first things to do is to request that your high school transcripts
be sent to the college.
Even though many of the basic questions seem routine, such as dates of
attendance at a particular school, make sure that answers are neat
and complete. Pay special attention to the activities section. Where
possible indicate the hours per week that were devoted to various
activities, and be sure to show the responsibilities involved with
each. (Baby-sitting or managing the night shift at a fast food restaurant
involves considerable responsibility and trust from your employer.)
Don't be shy. Remember
to highlight those activities that you intend to continue in college
or those which have led to your interest in a particular academic area
or profession. (If baby-sitting led to an interest in early childhood
education or managing a restaurant sharpened your understanding of
business, say so.)
another opportunity to highlight your achievements. First, it allows
you to prove that you really know something about a particular topic.
Second, it permits you to demonstrate that you can write clearly and
convincingly. Third, the way you select the details back up points, your organization,
and your ability to "show" and not "tell" ("show"
means establish your message through pointed examples, bits of dialog,
a single representative fact, or even humor) can illuminate your
sensitivity and sophistication. Fourth, you have an opportunity to
express your insights and sensitivity and reveal yourself as a person
without disclosing anything that is truly private. Remember, too,
that the beginning and the end of the essay should catch the reader's
Some other essay tips:
- Show your essay
to your teachers, perhaps to a friend and your parents. They may
have good ideas about how it will "sound" to an admissions
- Be sure to proofread
your essay before sending it off.
- Shape your essay
for the college you are applying to - if you write a generic essay,
find a way to indicate your interest in each college to which you
- Be concise. Busy
admissions readers may lose interest in long essays.
Nearly all colleges require a recommendation from your high school guidance
counselor and some from your teachers as well.
You should prepare
a brief statement for both your counselor and your teachers indicating
the colleges to which you are applying, what your intended major might
be, and what extracurricular activities you might pursue in college.
You should include a phrase explaining why you chose each college.
You should also give
both teachers and your counselor a brief resume of your extracurricular
activities in high school, activities during the summer and what your
work experience has been. Be sure to indicate positions of responsibility
and leadership you have held.
Remember to provide
your teachers with stamped envelopes addressed to each of the colleges
to which you are applying.
Keep in mind, the
busy admissions officer who must read everything in your file, and
try to limit additional letters of recommendation to those who know
you in a different context from anyone else, and who could therefore
add significant information to your file.
Avoid sending in supplemental
videos, musical performances, or copies of your English essays or history
papers, unless encouraged to do so by the college.
The form in which you apply may vary between institutions. Some colleges
will send paper applications to you directly or furnish them electronically,
while others will even permit you to apply entirely through the Internet.
Just be sure to copy all documents sent to any college.
Tests to Take & When to Take Them
While the role of
testing in the college admissions decision is important, it is not
the only factor used for acceptance. Even though test results are key
in telling both you and the college how you compare with others, virtually
all colleges, including those that make up Ohio's independent colleges,
consider test scores within the context of your entire application.
In other words, college
admission officers look at the strength of the high school curriculum,
grades, and the test scores. They look further at you as a person,
reviewing your extracurricular accomplishments, your essays and recommendations.
Next comes the interview
and "discussion of" or "mention of" any special
talents that you might bring. The application then usually goes to
a committee for discussion and a judgment about admission based on
all these documents.
High school guidance
counselors will give sound advice about what tests to take and when
to take them, but a few rules of thumb will be helpful:
Testing - Both the PLAN and the PSAT can be taken prior
to the ACT or SAT test. The PLAN is a preliminary ACT test given
in the sophomore year. The PSAT is a preliminary SAT test usually
given in October of the Junior year and serves as the qualifying
test for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
- SAT Tests -
There are two Scholastic Assessment Tests, the SAT I and II. The
SAT I measures verbal and math aptitude. Various SAT II, achievement
oriented subject tests, may also be taken. Certain colleges may require
SAT II tests. Applications for the SAT tests are available in the
high school guidance office. After you complete the application and
code it for each of the colleges you have selected, mail the application
with the fee to the College Board's Educational Testing Service.
- ACT Tests -
The ACT test is administered by the American College Testing Service.
It is given five times a year, and you apply in the same way as you
do with the SAT test. The ACT test has English, math, reading, and
science reasoning sections. Most colleges will accept either ACT
scores, SAT scores, or both.
You should plan to take the SAT or the ACT in both your junior year and
perhaps in the fall of your senior year. Scores sometimes increase
(but not always!).
Both the College Board and the ACT publish materials that help you understand
the tests and familiarize yourself with them. The application pamphlet
for each test contains helpful instructions. If you want further
practice, there are numerous study books available. There are also
computer disk programs available in book stores and possibly in your
high school guidance office.