Apply For College Successfully - What You Need To Know

Apply For College Successfully – What You Need To Know, with Gareth Fowles – RFL029

Apply For College Successfully – What You Need To Know – Episode Overview

For many, going to college is a big part of getting ready for life. Though we feel that getting the college degree to is the key to a better job, or to getting the training needed for a career that both appeals to and fits us, most students or parents don’t know how to choose a major, a school or how to apply for college successfully. This shows up in these statistics:

  •      46% of students who start college, never finish.
  •      On average, 4-year degree takes just under 6 years to complete.
  •      Average student loan debt at graduation is $28k

There are so many decisions that have to be made wisely to choose a college that FITS – that allows your kids to be who they are – and prepares them for a specific career or educational outcome. So, 3 questions:

  1.    How do students create a list of meaningful colleges to apply to?
  2.    What do college admissions offices want to see from or about the student?
  3.    What things should your high school students be doing now to become better or more attractive admissions candidates?

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on college, as a component of being ready for life. College isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, then my intention is to share what college admissions departments want and expect from the applicant, so you can guide and support your kids to better prepare to be accepted to the college of their choice.

Meet our guest Gareth Fowles

Gareth Fowles on how to Apply For College SuccessfullyGareth Fowles is the vice president for enrollment management at Lynn University. A native of S Africa, Gareth has degrees from both Lynn University and Vanderbilt University. His focus is on both student recruiting and retention and actively supports a college environment that allows students to realize their full potential.

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. The greatest help to decide whether to go to college, and then which college, is to know yourself – your talents, passions, values and interests and to know your world – the opportunities that need what you do best. This introduces you to career and job good-fit opportunities in your world. Then you can identify which majors would prepare you for this direction – and then which colleges belong on your application list.
  2. The college preparation and application process is really a four-year process:
    1. Freshman in high school. Start to discover your talents and interests. Investigate careers that appeal. Start to read about colleges, majors and college cultures. Start a broad list of colleges. Pay attention to courses, grades and performance.
    2. Sophomore in high school. Start to define interests and criteria you want in a college. Spend time on college websites. Start to narrow down a list of possible locations, including assessing cost. Choose your high school courses that align to your interest and future career intentions. Pay attention to courses, grades and performance.
    3. Junior in high school. Create a more defined list worthy of college visits – virtual or live. Work to creating a final application list with 3 – 8 college choices. Prepare a list of questions to ask on campus. Identify areas to see or review. Participate in some classes. At high school, focus on grades and taking courses that prepare you for your intended direction.
    4. Senior in high school. Prepare and send applications to final list. Scout all financial aid or scholarship opportunities. Stay in touch with college admissions departments. Finish off year strong.
  3. Most students apply to too many colleges – average is 8 or fewer. With too many colleges on the list, a student will be unable to do the right due diligence to assess the college’s fit. With clarity, 3- 5 is a reasonable amount to have on your final application list.
  4. Choose your college based on its ability to prepare you for where you want to be and what you want to be doing after college.
  5. When considering colleges – in addition to selecting for academics – consider culture, graduation rate, college specialties, ability to study abroad, athletics, student teacher ratio, talent of professors, geography (including urban and a college), faith/beliefs, activities, clubs, alignment with values, etc.  Though the student’s world will dramatically expand once on campus, doing self and career exploration work before the student arrives will help him choose more wisely. Assess whether the college is one that will let the student be who they really are.
  6. Have your student do his own application, essays and have his own voice in all interviews, campus visits and applications. Parents should be collaboratively involved (review, guide and assist), but students must do the work. An admissions team can see through an application completed by someone other than the student. This also encourages our students be independent thinkers and learners
  7. A high school GPA is a better indicator of success than a standardized test. There are now over 850 test-optional colleges – where standardized tests ACT or SAT scores are not required.

Some question for parents:

  1. How can you help your student discover his talents, passions, values and interests?
  2. How can you start a conversation about what careers fit your student – and which fields or directions appeal?
  3. How can you be collaboratively involved in the college investigation, application and admissions process, and not step in and do the work for your student?
  4. How can you help your student develop great study habits in high school to help them perform consistently well – this is the greatest factor in getting in to a college of their choice.

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Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice what your kids are good at and passionate about. How can this help you help them think about future career directions and the role of college?
  2. Stop and Notice your student’s feeling about college – is it needed for his future career focus? Does he have any interest in having college be part of his future?
  3. Stop and Notice which colleges get your student’s attention. What culture, environment, and other aspects seem to matter to your student?
  4. Stop and Notice how much of the college preparation and application process you are doing for your student. Be sure this is his work to do.

College is a big decision – and therefore it needs an effective planning and preparation process to decide wisely. Stay focused on who the student is and what he wants for life after college to give you guidance about which college, major and environment may serve him best. Be there to support and guide but remember this is his college, career and life, and he is best when he learns how to own it.

Suggested Resource:

Apply to college successfully with this resource: Where You Go - Frank BruniWhere You Go is Not Who You’ll Be – An Antidote To The College Admissions Mania  By Frank Bruni

Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.

Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors’ mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn’t attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges-large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands-serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student’s efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

Where you go isn’t who you’ll be. Americans need to hear that-and this indispensable manifesto says it with eloquence and respect for the real promise of higher education.