The Right Choice: 5 Reasons to Pursue a College Degree Reply

Earning a college degree is a crucial step in life and is now considered an integral part of the “American Dream.” It is about creating opportunities in life. A college degree prepares your intellect and social abilities for your adult life and career.
Most people want to attend college, but they don’t know why they should or how it will benefit their lives. There are many benefits associated with earning a college degree and here are just a few.

1. Make More Money

For many people, the ability to make more money is what drives them to go to college. Whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree, a postsecondary degree gives you the opportunity to pursue higher paying careers that require advanced skills. Research indicates that college graduates earn more money in their lifetime compared to those who only possess a high school diploma.

According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, high school graduates earn about $30,000 annually, and bachelor’s degree graduates earn about $50,000 a year. In a few years, this translates to a big earnings gap between these two groups of individuals. The earning potential also differs depending on your field of work. Although there is an income disparity based on your gender and race, your earning potential still increases significantly with a college degree.

2. Expand Your Knowledge Base

Getting college education helps you gain advanced knowledge in your subjects of interest and a broad range of experience in many other subjects. It also gives you the ability to exercise critical and abstract thinking. It helps you gain the capacity to express yourself both in writing and speech clearly and to make sensible decisions. These skills are quite crucial both on and off your job.

3. Better Career Opportunities

The most common path to a better career is earning a college degree. Although when most people enter college, they don’t know what they want to become in future, most of them know they need a good job that will pay them well and offer them more satisfaction and security. This is one of the primary reasons people invest their money and time to go to college.

Usually, it doesn’t matter what you study, what counts is just the fact that you earned the degree. Since college gives you a wide range of skills, many graduates end up working in various fields that are different from what they studied. Thus, college opens up doors for opportunities that aren’t always available to those who haven’t been engaged in higher education.

4. Satisfaction and Job Security

A post-secondary degree usually leads to better job security. The truth is, without a degree, you may not be as valuable to your employer. And when things get tough, it can be easier to lay you off. As a matter of fact, higher education is so vital that some companies will offer to pay for their employees’ tuition. That is how valuable a college degree is.

It is considered as an important investment that will be of benefit not only to the employee but the firm as well. Studies show that during economic recessions, college graduates are least likely to be laid off. Those who suffer most job cuts are individuals who only possess high school diplomas. If you are a college graduate, you are also bound to enjoy your job due to factors such as employment benefits, higher income, and opportunities to advance your career, and this translates to job satisfaction.

5. Ability to Weather Adversity

During an economic downturn, with more money available in your savings account, an education, and marketable skills, having a degree will help you survive hardship. The benefits of getting a college degree are very numerous indeed, and college education is a great investment in your life. You will gain more money, a bigger knowledge base, job security and satisfaction, and the ability to withstand tough times. And all these factors will give you a secure future.

Going to college will come with some difficulties. One of the thing you don’t have to do, however, is relocate. If you live in Colorado, for example, try to find a local college in Colorado instead of traveling to an out-of-state university. By attending a local college, you can maintain your current job and life while still attaining the many benefits available to you through a degree.


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Make Your College Application Shine: Six Strategies for Success Reply

One of the most important stages of your student life is your college application. However, the process of perfecting the applications that will determine the next years of your life can be scary and stressful.

Here you can find six strategies to optimize your college application process:

  1. Get organized

It’s crucial that you start your applications early and stay organized. Create a system that will allow you to keep track of the multiple tasks and deadlines of the applications you are working on. You can also develop a checklist or spread sheet with all the materials you need for each application such as official high school transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, portfolios and other supporting documents.

  1. Focus on your activities

Your accomplishments, leadership experiences, and community service can be a critical tool in helping separate yourself from all the others applicants with similar scores. Take the time to list all your extracurricular activities. College admissions officers often talk about the importance of being highly involved in activities and organizations, especially if they involve leadership. Many colleges are also placing a greater emphasis on encouraging students to reach out to the local communities.

  1. Decide on your application type and master it

More than 200 private colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the Common Application. You can actually complete the application online and then print out the number of copies you need, making sure your application answers are neat and professional. Make sure each school you want to apply to accepts it and even if they do, you should use the individual school’s application for your top colleges because it is sign that you care enough to individualize your application to that school. No matter what application you go for, always remember to read it thoroughly before starting filling it out. Start by completing a rough draft. Once you are happy with all your answers, take the time to complete the application neatly.

  1. Craft your best college essay

Your college essay is critical to your application. Besides being well written, it should also offer insight into your personality. Your essays should be original, personal, and honest and they are the best way to distinguish yourself from all the other similar applicants. And always remember to proofread your essay as carefully as possible.

  1. Take advantage of online resources

Online tools have become more and more helpful in making the college application process more manageable. Here you can find some of the most helpful resources to help you compose the perfect application:

  • Easy Word Count – this online word counter is perfect to keep a count of your words and characters when writing and editing your college application and specially your college essay.
  • State of Writing – a great tool for you to carefully edit your college application and improve your writing.
  • Grade On Fire – this writing community offers you quality writing guides and professional advice.
  • Uktopwriters – this tool will help you find complicated sentences and common errors that you want to avoid when editing your college application and essay. It allows you to paste your content into the tool and it will analyze it sentence by sentence.
  • Elite Assignment Help – use this tool to get expert writing help to improve your application and essay.
  • Resumention – an online tool that offers resume writing and editing services to help your resume and application stand out from the others.
  1. Seek help

Find someone to help you with the college application process. If you don’t have a family member to assist you, try a teacher or counsellor, a friend or any adult who has been through the process. Accept constructive criticism. The read your application, the stronger it will be.

To have a chance at getting accepted at the college of your choice, you need to meet the minimum requirements for acceptance. But apart from that, the most important element is the quality of your application and essay. Use these six strategies to help you build the strongest application and assay possible.


Freddie Tubbs is an eLearning project manager from Fort Myers, Florida. He works as a language researcher at Best Australian Writers and is a contributing author at The Atlantic.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

4 Things to Consider When Applying to Universities Reply

Choosing a college can be really easy. Or really hard. It all depends on a number of factors, some within your control and some beyond it. There are some components, however, that universally need to be considered when deciding on colleges that should be on your application list.

  1. Fit

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is fit. This is why it’s important to actually visit any universities you are seriously considering attending. Meet people – staff, professors and students – to really get a feel of the place and see how you feel about fitting in there. Not every college is for everybody, and you might find yourself simply liking the feel of some over others. Lots of schools have a website like this one for UC Clermont College. Spending some time on the schools website can help you get a feel for what the culture there will be like.

  1. Cost

While it’s not something most potential college students want to think about, the reality is that cost is always something you must consider when applying to universities. If you get more financial help to attend one school over another, that alone might make the decision for you. Or it might not. Always apply to schools you want because you might end up with more financial aid than you thought, and your college experience is not to be decided by money alone. But cost should always be a factor.

  1. Breadth Of Degree Choices

You are likely to change your major during college – that much is a fact. So if you’re looking at a very small school for a very specific program they are well-known for, what happens if you want to change your major and you then find there are not many other options to choose from? The smart thing to do is not only have a few majors in mind you might be interested in pursuing, but applying to colleges that have programs in a handful of subjects you are interested in, as well as other options you might not have even considered.

  1. Your Chances At Getting In

Have a good idea of the acceptance rate and average accepted student GPA of the schools you are considering. It might be best to simply not apply to any you have no realistic chance of getting into. If you are applying to a school or two that might be hard to get into, go the extra mile when crafting your application, essay and interview to present yourself as a student they want to accept. But also realistically determine if you’ll be able to keep up in the academic environment of those schools if you are accepted. And always apply to a “backup” school that you’re sure to get into.

The decision of what colleges to apply for is a very personal one, and there are a lot of things to consider. The benefits of a college education, including becoming a more well-rounded human being, better employment aspects and better lifetime salaries make it all worth it. Ultimately, follow both your heart and your head, as well as consider the four factors mentioned above, and good luck on those applications!


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

How to Utilize Your Degree to Help Save the World Reply

how-to-utilize-your-degreeYou may not be able to literally save the world, but you most likely want to use the degree that you’ve obtained to make a difference. You want to be a light in the lives of other people and a source of positivity and inspiration. The following are four degrees that you can use to perform your world-saving activities and some ways that you can make use of them:

Degree in Diplomacy

People who graduate from diplomacy programs have a special set of skills that they can use for people in this country or another. They are masters at communicating with other people and solving a wide variety of problems. Such people would be best in jobs such as publicists, foreign outreach specialists and project grant stewards. Project grant stewards take control of certain projects and help people to get the funds they need for them. You can make a difference in any of those positions.

Degree in Nursing

A nursing degree can help a person to serve others and “save” others in many ways. A person who has this kind of degree can work in a hospital, veterinarian’s office, nursing home, mental health institution and a number of other places. Such a person can also work as a home health aide and provide people with encouragement and assistance with everyday duties. Families truly appreciate someone who can help them care for their ill loved ones. It would be an amazing task for you if you have a heart of gold.

Human Relations Degree

A human relations degree is good for a person who wants to work as a counselor. Counselors can fit into a myriad of situations. Examples of some of the jobs that the human relations degree can get are jobs such as the guidance counselor at a school or the human relations specialist for an employer. This person serves others by helping them to achieve their goals and to deal with their conflict head on.

A Counseling Degree

Finally, a counseling degree is an amazing degree for someone who would like to “save” people who have problems that they need to work out. Counselors can work in private offices, institutions, online and more. Furthermore, they can help with domestic violence issues, substance abuse, childhood trauma and the like. They can assist with career goals and life coaching, as well.

The opportunity to contribute to making the world a better place is still available. Any of the above-mentioned degrees can put someone closer to achieving the tasks. There are even tons of other degrees out there that can help you change the world. This list is just scratching the surface.


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family. Kara recommends looking into diplomacy programs for more information on degrees that can help save the world.

10 Things About College Admission That Might Surprise You Reply

Portrait of stressed female student in library

A lot of stuff can surprise you in the college admission process—and they’re not always the good surprises, like finding money in your jeans or those magical extra French fries at the bottom of the bag.

Luckily, we’re here to take some of the shock out of these common college admission surprises. Because the more you know, the less likely you are to be caught off guard…

  1. Surprise! Taking tough classes is better than getting a high GPA

College admission folks would rather see you get a “B” in a challenging class than an “A” in an easier one. They want to see you pushing yourself academically—and they definitely don’t want to see you pad your GPA. So take the toughest course load you think you can handle, especially if you have any AP, honors, or other advanced classes available to you.

  1. Surprise! A long list of extracurriculars won’t impress colleges

College admission reps would also much rather see that you committed yourself to one or two extracurricular activities, especially over a longer period of time. That’s way better than joining 17 clubs spring of junior year. Admission counselors are looking for depth, not breadth of involvement. They want to see passion! So join the clubs you love, devote as much time to them as you can, and look for leadership roles that fit you.

  1. Surprise! That “optional” interview isn’t actually optional

Okay, it’s not like you won’t be considered for admission if you don’t participate in an “optional” interview. But college admission interviews aren’t that common, so when a school suggests participating in one, they probably think interviews are pretty important. Also, participating in an interview shows you’re really excited about attending the college. Admission counselors call that “demonstrated interest”—and it could give you a little bit of an edge compared to the kid who didn’t participate in an interview.

  1. Surprise! A recommendation letter from a VIP isn’t that helpful

You might be tempted to e-mail someone like your state senator, school superintendent, or Neil Degrasse Tyson in hopes that they’ll write you a college recommendation letter. But unless the VIP happens to know you really well, don’t waste your time (or theirs) trying to get a recommendation. Colleges only want to see recommendations from people who know you well enough to speak to your character and strengths, whether it’s your favorite teacher, mentor, coach, drama director, employer, pastor, etc.

  1. Surprise! The most expensive colleges on your list might be cheaper in the long run

Here’s the thing: financial aid changes everything—and you never know what kind of financial aid package you’ll get until you apply. It’s totally possible that the most expensive school on your list will offer you enough aid to magically become your cheapest option. Or you might find the school offering you the biggest financial aid package made a huge chunk of that “aid” student loans. Or you might get a big scholarship from one school that only lasts freshman year, whereas another school offers a smaller scholarship that gets renewed all four years and is ultimately worth more… Confusing, right? Instead of hunting down the cheapest colleges you can find, focus on applying to schools that really and truly fit you. Then make sure you fully understand your financial aid award letters when you get them (they come with your acceptance packages).

  1. Surprise! Admission counselors are looking at your social media accounts

You might’ve already been warned about this: yes, colleges look at your social media accounts, and, yes, you should delete any questionable posts. However, you don’t want to erase yourself from the Internet. In fact, you want admission counselors to find you and see all the fun, interesting stuff you do and care about. Look at your social media through a college admission counselor’s eyes: do your posts reflect the kind of thoughtful, creative, passionate student they’d want to admit?

  1. Surprise! Asking for financial aid can sometimes hurt your chances of admission

Learn these two terms if you haven’t already: need-blind admission and need-aware admission. Colleges with need-blind admission don’t care if you apply for financial aid, and they won’t consider it when they review your application. But colleges with need-aware admission do consider it—and they might weigh your financial need against you. It’s not necessarily an admissions deal-breaker. But, at need-aware colleges, all else being equal, the student who doesn’t need aid will get in before the student who does need financial help. You can typically figure out if the schools on your list are need-blind or need-aware by doing a little online research, or you can e-mail or call the admission office to ask.

  1. Surprise! The PSAT matters

It’s not just a practice run for the SAT. The PSAT is also the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. If you score high enough (in the top 50,000-ish test takers), you could be eligible for a National Merit scholarship. (Here’s the breakdown of how to qualify.) Not only that, but most colleges love admitting students who crack the top 50,000, even if they don’t end up winning an official National Merit Scholarship. That might get you a leg-up in admission—and maybe even an institutional scholarship. So give the PSAT your best shot.

  1. Surprise! The college that sent you brochures and e-mails might not accept you

Yes, colleges and universities send out marketing materials to students they think might be a good fit for their institution, students they very well might accept. But they also send brochures to lots of students in hopes that lots will apply—which might boost their selectivity rate. At the end of the day, you should absolutely, positively apply to any and all schools that fit you. Just remember, a brochure isn’t a guarantee.

  1. Surprise! Admission counselors actually read your application essays

They really do. Why would they ask for them if they didn’t? Colleges use the essay to get a sense of your personality, values, motivations, and college readiness. It helps them see if you’re a good overall fit for their institution—and the kind of student they should admit. So take advantage of your application essays. Show the admission committee why they should invite you to join their campus. And tell the story only you can tell.

Did anything on this list surprise you? Or have you encountered any other surprises in your college search? Let us know in the comments!


Jessica Tomer, Editor-in-Chief, CollegeXpress

Jessica Tomer is the Editor-in-Chief for CollegeXpress, a free college and scholarship search site designed to guide students through the entire college journey—admissions, financial aid, majors, campus visits, you name it. She is an education advocate, storyteller, and grammar nerd. Like many of her fellow Emerson College alumni, Jessica is a news junkie and bookworm. You can get in touch with her on Twitter: @CollegeXpress or @JessicaTomer.

A Step By Step Guide to Writing the Best College Admissions Essay Reply

Office of Admission Sign on WallCollege admissions essays are seen as an insurmountable obstacle in your college application. Most students haven’t written an essay quite like it before, and now this piece of writing will confirm whether you get into your chosen university? It’s too much pressure.

It helps when you have a guide you can follow. This step by step guide will show you how to go about writing your essay, and give you tools that will help. Soon you’ll have an essay that you can really be proud of.

Step One: Really think about your prompt

Many an essay has floundered because the writer hasn’t quite grasped what the question was asking of them. They may have read it once, got the wrong impression, and then started writing. Really spend some time reading, rereading, and thinking about the prompt. How can you relate to it, and what experiences can you bring to it?

Step Two: Brainstorm your ideas

Now you need to get together all of the ideas that are floating around your head. Sit down with a piece of paper, and start writing down everything that comes to mind when you think of the prompt. Get down as much as you can, as you’ll be narrowing down your ideas soon. Reflect on all the experiences you have, and which ones will be relevant to your essay. Write down the ones you think will work in your essay.

Step Three: Plan out your essay

This is the point where you’ll be writing out your outline for your essay. It’s important that you don’t miss this step, as if you do you’ll find it much harder to write the essay. Plan out what you’re going to say, when you’re going to say, and how it will answer the prompt given. Use the information you got in the brainstorming session to inform your plan. You’ll pick the best ideas and experiences from that to include in your finished piece.

Step Four: Get writing

Now you’ve done all the planning, so you need to get writing! Sit down at your computer, and work on a rough draft. Don’t worry too much, just get it all down. You’ll be editing it in the next steps. As you’re writing, remember to be yourself. The admissions committee are looking to see what you’re like as a person, so be tempted to show off, or pretend to be someone you’re not. Just let your real self shine through.

Step Five: Proofread and edit

Proofreading and editing is one of the most important jobs you’ll have to do with your essay. You’ve got your basic rough draft, now you need to polish up. It’ll take a few passes until it’s perfect, but keep at it. Look for spelling and punctuation errors, confusing or run on sentences, and incorrect facts. A good tip is to give the essay to someone else read over. They’ll be able to spot errors you can’t, as you’re too close to the text.

Step Six: Use online tools to polish your work

Writing The College Application Essay: This resource has detailed instructions for the different sections of your essay. Also, there’s a plenty of samples to check out and take inspiration from.

Australian help: This educational portal can be used almost anywhere to brush up on your skills. Watch tutorials and do short tests to get you feeling confident in your chosen topic.

The Writing Center: This guide gives you some detailed, usable advice for writing your essay. It includes advice on avoiding too much style in your essay, and how to research your ideas.

Personal Insight Questions: This video gives you some ideas on how to present yourself in your essay. You’ll think about what answers you’ll need to give to tell the committee what they need to know about you.

Readability Score: Your essay needs to be easy to understand, but how do you know how readable it is? This tool allows you to check it against several readability tools, so you know the committee will be able to really get what you’re telling them.

UK Writings: It’s not that easy to write, edit and proofread a great essay. This interactive online writing tool will work with you to organize and plan your essay.

Examples of Awesome Personal Statements: It’s always easier to write when you have some examples of successful essays to hand. This is a great depository of such examples to draw on when you’re struggling with your own essay.

EssayEdge: Get admission essay suggestions from experts in their field, all graduates from Ivy-League schools such as Harvard and Yale.

If you follow this step by step plan, you’ll be able to write the best essay you possibly can. You’ll wow the committee reading your essays, and convince them they’re the student they want for their university.


About Gloria Kopp

Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an e-learning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a creative writer. She has recently launched her Studydemic educational website and is currently working as a freelance writer and editor.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

How Many Times Should You Take The GRE And When Should You Start? Reply

how-many-times-should-youThese days, many students are realizing that submitting GRE scores is a part of the graduate school application process. With this reality in mind, you may be wondering when you should start preparing for the GRE and how many times you should take it. Review the short outline below to obtain answers to these questions and more:

It’s Never Too Soon To Start

If you’re wondering when you should begin preparing for the GRE, know that it’s never too soon to start. Familiarizing yourself with the format and content of the exam can alleviate test anxiety and empower you to attain a higher score. As such, it’s a good idea to get started immediately. Luckily, there are a wide range of learning resources at your disposal. For example, companies like ETS, Barron, Peterson’s and Kaplan provide a wide range of test prep material you can use to study for the Verbal, Math, and Written components of the exam.

Taking online courses in the fields of English, Math, and Writing is another technique you can implement to prepare for the exam. If you’ve already obtained your bachelor’s in English, you may want to consider completing an online masters computer science program. This can make you a more competitive candidate for a grad school program while also sharpening your reasoning skills.

How Many Times Should You Take The GRE?

Before you decide how many times you should take the GRE, consider the following facts:

  • You can take the computer-based test once every 21 days.
  • You may take the GRE up to five times within one year.
  • If you cancel your GRE scores, the test that you took still counts towards the five annual test dates.

There are several reasons why an individual might want to take the GRE again or several times. Generally, the reason pertains to the score. In some cases, an individual might not have had sufficient time to prepare for the exam. When this happens, a substandard score may be the unwanted outcome. If you know that the score you’ve obtained is below the average score that individuals admitted into the learning institution attained, it’s definitely a good idea to retake the exam.

Keep in mind that you can take the GRE as many times as you want and submit your highest scores to the college in question. However, if you’re taking the test over and over to try to attain a perfect score, keep in mind that the GRE is not the only component of your application process. You’ll also want to concentrate on other critical elements like your letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, writing sample, etc.

If you’re serious about acing the GRE so that you can get into your dream school, now is the time to start studying. Review the information and instructions found in this quick reference guide to get on the path to an excellent score today!


Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Juniors: Make a List of Potential Colleges Reply

Making a list of collegesAs a high school junior, the task of picking a college can be daunting. There are so many colleges out there. So much to consider. There are a variety of different guidebooks and websites designed to help you search for a college that is right for you. Sometimes, the sheer amount of information on colleges makes things more confusing. You won’t really know for sure if a college is right for you until you visit it, but you certainly can’t visit every single college you find interesting. So how do you decide?

The best way to start is to make a list of colleges that you could see yourself attending.  In preparation for making this list, it’s important to really consider what qualities you are looking for in a college. It is much easier to evaluate a school, once you have done some thinking about what you want in a college. Make a list of the things you need and want from your prospective school.

Qualifications

Some qualifications are obvious and fairly objective. If you know what you want your major to be, or at least have an idea of where your main interests lie, then you’ll want to make sure that the school you are looking at offers degree programs that fit your goals. Location can be a factor.  Do you want to go to school close to home, or are you looking to move away? Cost is always a factor, though one that is difficult to measure.  Certainly you don’t want to add a school to your list if the cost to attend will exceed your budget.  Still, many schools that may have a tuition expense that is out of your range also have grants and scholarships that can help you offset those costs. A school’s athletic program might be an important decision factor for athletes who plan on continuing their sport at the college level.

Other qualifications are more subjective. What is the best college environment for you? Would you rather be in a big university or a smaller college? In a big city or a smaller one? College is not just about classes and grades and diplomas.  It’s also an experience.  Think about the things that are important to you as a person. What are your hobbies?  What kind of weather do you prefer? What clubs do you think you’d like to join?  What is the overall environment like?  These questions are much harder to answer without visiting the college – and if you are making fairly long list, you probably cannot visit them all! Sometimes visiting the school’s website, talking to someone who attends or did attend the college, or to the admissions personnel might help with some of these more subjective questions.

Share Your List of Schools

Once you have more clearly defined what types of colleges you’d like to attend, then it is much easier to research and add good candidates to your list of colleges.  Throughout this process it is a good idea to talk with your parents, other family members and your high school counselor to get feedback.  Those around you, who know you well, can be great resources because they can provide insight and ideas that may not have occurred to you. Once you have a list, they can also help you narrow it down to a handful of colleges that you can visit.

Time to Get Moving on Early Decision Reply

DecisionIf you are a high school junior or senior that is planning on applying for early decision, then you are a student who knows exactly what your first school choice is. It also means that you have to be on top of all of the various deadlines you will need to meet in order to successfully apply for early decision. You can only submit an early decision application to one school. This is because your application is binding. By applying, you are committing to attending this college if you are admitted. You may perhaps have some other schools that you are applying for, but these schools are really second choices. You know for certain where you want to go to college and why. You’ve done your research. Here are some items to consider about early decision:

SAT and ACT: Something for juniors to consider:

  • If you are considering completing and early decision application for a school, then you will want to make certain that you have completed your SAT or ACT test by October of your junior year. This ensures that your test results will be available when you are sending in your college application. If you take the test any later, there is a high probability that your test scores will not be ready and you will not be able to complete your early decision application.
  • It may be a good idea to take the test even sooner than October however, so that you can retake the test if you are not satisfied with the results.

What seniors should be doing now.

  • Obtain information from your prospective college about the early decision process, and obtain an application. While you are preparing to start your new school year, it is important to remember how fast the time goes, and how busy you often get as you acclimate to another year. By starting your application now, you can be proactive and make certain that you obtain everything you need to complete your application.
  • You’ll need letters of recommendation to submit along with your application. If you did not start obtaining these in your junior year, you need to start asking for these. Letters of recommendation can come from teachers, counselors, community leaders who know you, or other references.
  • Get working on scholarship and grant applications. One of the more complicated aspects of early decision is that you will be making a decision on your college before you really know how much financial aid you will receive. Applying to more grants and scholarships now may help insulate you from the unknown.
  • Know your deadlines. Many early decision application deadlines are in November. Some are as early as October. Make sure you are persistent in getting any information you need to complete your application by the deadline.
  • Complete your financial aid applications. If a school offers scholarships directly, make sure you apply for them as you are applying for early decision and that you know the deadlines for financial aid applications, which may be different. Complete the FAFSA in January.

Early decision works well for students who are certain they know their top choice of college. In some cases, applying early may increase your chances for getting into a school. It also saves you stress because you won’t have to wait as long to receive your decision. Still, early decision is not for everyone, be certain to talk with your parents, school counsellors and college admissions people prior to committing to early decision.

The Art of Narrowing Your List of Colleges Reply

Narrowing your college list.

Deciding on a college.

As a high school junior just starting a new school year, it is easy to see your college career as something still far on the horizon. Certainly you are preparing (or have already taken) your SAT or ACT test. You’ve likely begun thinking about what schools you would be interested in attending, and maybe you’ve even visited one or two. Still, the actual idea of graduating high school and starting college can seem far off. It’s really not as far away

as it seems, and your junior year is a great time to do some fine-tuning of your list of colleges. Fine-tuning now can save you stress and frustration later.

If you’ve been doing your research, you may have quite a list. It’s not uncommon for a student to have a list of 10 or more desirable colleges. Now it’s time to narrow that list to something a little more manageable before beginning the application process. Applying to too many schools can be stressful and make a tough decision even tougher. Here are a few things to consider while narrowing your list.

Location

Some students want to stay close to home. Some want to go to specific areas of the country. For some, location isn’t as big of a deal. If location is important to you it’s time to think this through and possibly get rid of colleges that are not in a location you are interested in living.

Specific Degree Programs and Features

Obviously, if you’ve placed a school on your “potential school list,” you’ve chosen a school that offers the degree you want. Now it’s time to research further. Does the school have a good reputation for your specific degree? You may also want to consider special ancillary features each college offers. If you are interested in studying abroad, specific work-study programs or ROTC, you’ll want to narrow your list to colleges that fulfil those needs.

Cost

Let’s face it, one of the major considerations when choosing a college is the tuition and other costs. Determining the net cost of a year of college at a particular institution can be tricky. It’s not just a matter of looking at the tuition cost. On the surface, one school may be more expensive than another, but that school may also offer more grants and scholarships. Depending on your situation, it is conceivable that a more expensive private college could actually be cheaper than a public college with a lower tuition because of a more comprehensive financial aid program.

Composite image of student holding laptopLong Shots vs Sure Things

Depending on your goals, you may wish to apply to some schools that are more difficult to get into. Remember, even if you have great grades, you are not guaranteed admission into a school like Harvard or Yale. If schools like these are on your list, then it’s a good idea to also have some second choices on your short list that meet your goals, but tend to be easier to get into.

Every student is different, so likely there are other considerations to be made when reducing your prospective college list. Take some time now to think it through and narrow your list. This way you can focus your time and effort on applying only to those schools you most want to attend.