Tuesday, May 20, 2014

College and Scholarship Applications: Keeping Up With the Details

If your college-bound student is interested in several potential schools, keeping track of application deadlines, possible scholarships, and required admission qualifications can become confusing.

Our recent visit to Southern Methodist University netted two very helpful forms to assist students in keeping all their college and scholarship information sorted.

The creator of these forms, Stevie, graciously gave her consent to allow me to share these forms with you.

The first form, "My College List", helps you compare schools at a glance.
keep up with details of college applications
The form includes:
College name
College location
College cost - include tuition and fees;  use the out-of-state tuition rate, as applicable
Scholarship/Aid - is it need-based or merit-based; what percentage of students receive it
Size - undergrad population; student to faculty ratio
Acceptance stats - average SAT/ACT score of admitted students, average aid amount per student, percent of applicants admitted, etc
Live on campus - are students required to live on campus, if so, how long, what does it cost
Student Life/Activities - Do they have what is important to you
I would add:
Academics - does the school offer what you want to study
Visit - schedule a visit and record the date on your form

The second form, "College & Scholarship Application Calendar", helps you keep up with deadlines for college applications and scholarships the college offers. Many students miss out on scholarships simply because they miss deadlines.
collegescholarship.JPG
This form includes:
College and Scholarship name
Due Dates - colleges have different dates for early action, early decision, and regular decision applications
Test Scores required - SAT/ACT or both; does the college 'super score'; does the school accept AP or IB?
Letters of Recommendation-  what is required
Essays - how many? About what?
Fee - most, if not all, colleges require an application fee. Record the cost. If you think
you might be eligible for a fee waiver, note if it is offered and if you qualify.
Application Type - does the school accept the Common App? Apply Texas? School App?

Some of the terms above may be a little confusing. Let's clarify.

Early Action application - This is a non-binding decision. Students get an early decision on their application, but they are not bound (committed) to attend that college.

Early Decision application - This is a binding decision. Students accepted on an early decision application commit to attending that college. They can only apply to one school as 'early decision'. I'm not sure why you would want to do this unless your heart is set on going to a particular school, no matter what.

Super-Score - when colleges indicate they will 'super-score' test scores, that means they will take the highest scores from each section of a test (SAT/ACT) if the test is taken more than one time.

Application types - many schools across the country accept the online Common Application. Students complete one application and can send it to many schools. Some colleges may require a supplement to the Common App.

For Texas colleges, the Apply Texas application is similar to the Common App. Fill out one application and send to many Texas schools.

For colleges that do not accept the Common App or Apply Texas, students will need to fill out the school-specific application.


Outside Scholarships:
I do not have a form for this, but it is another form that I suggest your student make to keep track of deadlines and requirements for outside scholarships he/she finds.

Include:
Name of scholarship
Application deadline
Amount of scholarship
Requirements - essay, application, other
Qualifications - test scores, GPA, etc
Website - many scholarships are found online
Notification date
Contact info

Whether your student is a rising junior or senior, this summer is an excellent time to make these forms and start filling them out. Students usually have a little more time in the summer to research this information, so don't wait until school begins in the fall.

My next post will include tips on writing a personal essay for college applications.  This is another project your student can work on during the summer to get a head start on college applications.

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