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Liberty Prep

Practical Advice for Parents

Practical Advice for the College Admission Process

The process of applying to college can seem overwhelming to students and parents. Liberty Prep Advisement is here to support you in each step of the process. Here are a few ideas of where to start...

 

1) Get Organized! - Purchase a large, transportable plastic file box (approximately $10 at most discount office supply stores) that is designed to hold hanging file folders. This should probably be done by the time the student begins his or her sophomore year.

 

In your portable file box create hanging file sections for the categories below:  

 

Transcripts/Standardized Tests – diploma plan, grades, PSAT scores, ACT & SAT scores, etc. 

Extra-Curricular Activities – Student council, athletics, clubs, church activities, music, mission trips, community service, scouting, etc. 

Service Projects & Jobs – Volunteer opportunities and paid opportunities 

Awards/Honors – Academic, athletic, service, leadership, job recognition, etc. 

Pictures – Pictures of activities related to any of the above topics: mission trips, academic banquet, service projects, etc.

College Related Information (dates and deadlines) – SAT/ACT test dates, essay recommendation tips, yearly task lists for college preparation, etc. 

Career Planning – Evaluations, web info, assessments and other information. 

Admission/Scholarship Essays – Keep one copy here and one in the specific college file 

Financial Aid Information – FAFSA, State Aid, etc. Keep copies here. 

Interviews/College Visit Questionnaires - Here is the place for all information accumulated on your campus visits. 

Scholarships – Scholarship deadlines, copies of scholarship applications, etc. 

College Life – Articles on roommate relationships, lists of student Blogs from your college choices, college packing lists, college life, etc.

Activities Resume – This will be compiled during your senior year using many of the items from areas above. 

Recommendation Letters – Copies of the recommendation letters you are allowed to view.

NCAA Information  or  Military/ROTC Information – If applicable. 

 

2) Know the Priority System for Admissions and Scholarships - Colleges and universities judge your child’s application using a definite priority system. Taking a rigorous load all the way through your senior year not only prepares you for college-level courses, but also increases your chances for admission and scholarships. The normal priority system is: 

1. Difficulty of courses taken (they consider what is offered at your school) and your grades in those courses. 

2. Class rank or percentile (top 20%, top 10%, etc.)* 

3. SAT or ACT scores * 

4. Extracurricular school activities * 

5. Community service/other activities * 

These areas are especially valuable for scholarships. Regarding extra-curricular activities, colleges are looking for students who demonstrate responsibility, leadership, and initiative in their chosen activities. It is better to stay with a few varied activities and show growth in the above mentioned areas than to “dabble” in a wide variety of interests or hobbies. 

 

3) Talk About Colleges - Gather materials on the colleges you are considering and begin to talk seriously about what appeals to you and your child. First, clarify preferences about large vs. small schools, urban vs. rural, coed vs. single sex, and public vs. private. Make certain that all colleges being considered offer degrees in all of the fields of interest to the student. Statistics show that 85% of all college students change their majors at least once. 

 

4) Discuss Your Family’s Realistic Financial Commitment - Consult books and financial aid websites and attend sessions on financial aid offered at college nights. From these you should be able to arrive at an approximate amount the FAFSA is going to declare as your family’s contribution (average is 5.5% of parents’ income). Financial aid can often close the gap that exists between scholarship offers and remaining college costs.

 

5) Read & Be Informed - Choose a well rounded short list of books and review the websites you find on college admissions. Become more informed to avoid mistakes and increase comfort level. Also consult major college guides as they are unbiased and better for direct comparisons. 

 

6) College Visits/Personal Interviews - Visit as many colleges as possible. As you travel or when you visit relatives or friends who live near or on a college campus, stop by for a visit. Check out the campus, the dorms, the library, and the student center, and pick up a school catalogue while you’re there. Schedule a couple of weeks in advance for an interview or face-to-face meeting with an admissions counselor. 

 

7) FAFSA (www.fafsa.ed.gov) - In November, you will need to register on the website to receive your PIN number. Prepare your income tax Form 1040 as early as possible. It will be needed for the FAFSA application. Many scholarship competitions may also request a copy of your tax form even though the scholarships are based on merit rather than need. Complete the FAFSA online application in January as early as possible.

 

8) Essay Assistance -Type a list of all the essay topics for admissions and scholarships so that your child can ponder these and perhaps find a way of using the same essay with some modifications for more than one school. Also, volunteer to do the typing and proofreading of essays and applications—the more eyes checking grammar, punctuation, and spelling, the better.

 

9) Keep Up with Recommendations - Make certain your child has created a resume by the end of the junior year to give to teachers and others being asked to write recommendations. The more information on the resume the better. Remind your child to include a stamped, addressed (typed) envelope with each request for a recommendation and do not forget a thank you note when the recommendation is completed. Make sure and remind the student in the midst of the excitement to share the good news immediately with the teachers who wrote recommendations. They feel gratified in helping your child achieve his or her dreams.

 

10) Graduation Requirements -  Make certain that your child’s junior and senior year course schedules fulfill college admission requirements. 

 

11) To Have a Job or Not - Jobs often offer valuable learning lessons for students, but parents should note that it may be necessary to help your children make important choices regarding jobs and preparation for college, especially if the two conflict. It is far better to do well in school and pursue meaningful service and educational activities than to have a typical after school job. If, however, you feel a job is necessary (financial reasons, etc.), then try to align your job with your talents and interests, if possible (e.g. Using your athletic ability to coach younger players, your academic ability to tutor, your computer skills to do word processing, graphics, or your music ability to give lessons, etc.). Showing this kind of initiative in your work experience is valuable to college admission and scholarship committees, plus it’s rewarding and fun. 

 

 

 

 

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