Seniors Focus on College Applications

As Dimond High School enters into a new quarter, seniors are beginning to think about their futures after high school.

College applications are a tremendous feat to conquer and knowing what university best fits your needs is even more difficult.

There are so many different factors to consider when deciding on a college; the academic programs they offer, athletic teams, location, campus life and most importantly, tuition.

After students narrow down their search they must begin the application process. However, this process starts long before the pen hits the paper.

Students must begin their academic conquest their freshman year in order to earn a respectable academic resume when competing for college acceptance. Meanwhile, while balancing homework and athletics, students must complete the ACT and SAT exams, which are a necessity for most universities.

Dimond Senior Takuma Inoue said, “I first took my PSAT my sophomore year and then I took an SAT and ACT the summer [after] my sophomore year.”

After students complete their exams, many colleges require letters of recommendation from a teacher or counselor.

These letters take hours to compose and most teachers get many requests at once for a letter of recommendation. As a result, it can take weeks before a teacher can write a letter of recommendation for a student.

Also, the letters of recommendation are based on the teacher’s knowledge of the student, which usually stems from in class interactions. If students do not put effort into their work and assignments, they can expect that to reflect in their letter or the teacher may refuse to compose a letter all together.

Algebra 2 and AP Statistics teacher Nate Normandin said, “Usually you try to make the student look good obviously, but at the same time if it is a student that I have a hard time writing a letter of rec for because they were not a good student I’ll say, ‘no I am not gonna write one for you.’”

After you receive your letter of recommendation from your teachers or counselor, you can submit your application.

However, the question most commonly asked amongst Dimond students is, “Where do I apply?”

Many different tools exist at Dimond to aid in your search of the perfect college, but the most knowledgeable is in fact your counselor.

Counselors help seniors in many ways in terms of the college admissions process. Counselor Jennifer Buck shed light on the issue.

Buck said, “Most times, it’s helping students come up with a list of colleges. Some seniors have already figured it out and they need letters of recommendation or they need me to help send transcripts.”

After the application process is all said and done, the big issue becomes money. Universities nowadays have tuitions in the range of $60,000, which for most is an insurmountable cost and can deter low-income families from certain colleges.

However, there are programs that exist that cater to low-income families and provide financial aid to those that meet the criteria.

One such program is Questbridge.

Inoue said, “Questbridge is a scholarship program that gives the opportunity to low-income, highly academic students to go to college debt free, so they give you a full ride to a top university.”

Currently, Inoue is  looking at Stanford, Yale and Princeton as his top three colleges.

Separately, there are programs for students who are not as highly academic, which for scholarships like Questbridge is a requirement. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which provides financial aid strictly based on need. Students who live in low-income families will receive significant financial aid through FAFSA.

Although college applications can be a daunting task to seniors, there exists a plethora of opportunities to seek help in finding the right university for any student.