Decoding The College Application Process: A Guide For EHS Students

The transition from high school to college is an exhilarating phase, paved with dreams, aspirations, and of course, applications. While many of our Excel High School (EHS) students are equipped with academic prowess, the labyrinth of the college application process can still feel overwhelming. Let’s walk you through it, ensuring your journey from EHS to higher education is as smooth as possible.

Beginning the Journey: The Research Phase

Long before the actual application is filled, a crucial step is to conduct detailed research. It’s vital to know what you’re stepping into. Your decision shouldn’t just revolve around brand names but be a more informed choice based on what you desire from your college experience.

Virtual Campus Tours: In today’s digital era, many colleges offer virtual tours. These tours can be invaluable in giving you a flavor of the campus life without actually being there.

Engaging in Open Days: For those who can make it, open days provide a deeper insight. Here, you have the chance not only to see the facilities but to engage in conversations with current students and professors.

Online Peer Reviews: Websites such as College Confidential or Niche offer student perspectives on their institutions. These can offer a more unfiltered view than official college publications.

Building the Core: The Application Essentials

Every college application, irrespective of the institution, demands certain core components. These pieces together create the portrait of who you are as a student and more importantly, as an individual.

Your Academic Transcript: This remains a staple. It’s a record of your academic journey, highlighting not just your results but also your dedication and hard work over the years.

Personal Essay: Beyond grades, colleges are interested in you as a person. The essay is your canvas to paint your story. Remember:

  • • To reflect authenticity.
  • • To proofread multiple times.
  • • To avoid overused narratives and clichés.

Letters of Recommendation: These letters provide another perspective of who you are. When considering whom to ask:

  • • Choose someone who knows you well.
  • • Preferably someone relevant to your desired field of study.
  • • Give them sufficient time and a gentle reminder as the deadline approaches.

The Crucial Crossroad: Navigating Standardized Testing

In the vast landscape of college admissions, standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT have traditionally been significant landmarks. Even though some institutions are moving towards test-optional policies, a strong test score can bolster your application, especially at more competitive colleges. If you’re considering standardized testing, check out our blog post about the pros and cons of taking the SAT or ACT.

SAT or ACT – Which One?

  • Nature of the Tests: While both tests assess mathematical skills, reading, and writing, the ACT also includes a science section, and the SAT delves deeper into mathematical concepts.

  • Scoring System: SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, combining your Math and EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) scores. ACT scores, on the other hand, are composite scores averaging your results from each of its four sections, with a range between 1 and 36.

  • Frequency & Flexibility: Both tests are offered multiple times a year. However, one might align better with your academic schedule and study plans.

Tips for Preparing:

  1. 1. Start Early: Give yourself ample time to prepare, practice, and identify areas of improvement.
  2. 2. Use Available Resources: Platforms like Khan Academy offer free SAT prep. There are also countless ACT prep resources online.
  3. 3. Mock Tests: Regularly take full-length practice tests. This not only helps gauge your preparedness but also gets you accustomed to the test format and time constraints.
  4. 4. Stay Updated: Keep abreast with any changes in test patterns, dates, or policies.

Consider Super Scoring: Some colleges accept ‘super scores’, which means they consider your highest section scores across all the dates you took the SAT or ACT. This can benefit you if you performed well in Math during one test and Reading in another.

The Test-Optional Movement: With a growing number of schools adopting test-optional admissions policies, decide whether submitting your scores will enhance or detract from your application. If your scores don’t reflect your academic capabilities, it might be better to rely on other strong components of your application.

Tailoring the Approach: Understanding Application Types

Different colleges offer various application processes. It’s essential to tailor your approach based on these.

Regular Decision: This is a conventional route. You adhere to a set deadline and await your decision by spring.

Early Action & Early Decision: These are for the eager beavers who have zeroed in on a college early on. The crucial difference? Early Decision is binding; if accepted, you must attend. Early Action, however, leaves you with choices.

Rolling Admissions: Here, there’s no fixed deadline. Colleges keep accepting students until all slots are filled. However, early applications can have a slight edge.

Standing Out: Extracurriculars & Dual Enrollment

While academics are crucial, extracurricular activities offer insights into your passions, leadership skills, and how you’ll potentially contribute to the college community.

At EHS, we understand the value of standing out, which is why we also recommend exploring our dual enrollment program. It showcases your capability to handle college-level courses, giving you an edge.

Financing Your Dreams: Navigating Financial Aid

Higher education is an investment. But it needn’t be a burden. A plethora of financial aid options are available.

FAFSA: The starting point for any financial aid process. This helps you tap into federal financial aid.

Scholarships: Ranging from performance-based to need-based, there are numerous scholarships available. It requires effort in terms of research and application, but the payoff is worth it.

Decoding the Financial Aid Letter: When colleges send their offers, ensure you understand the breakdown between grants, scholarships, and loans.

Final Thoughts

The college application journey is indeed intricate, with its set of challenges. Yet, it’s also a journey of self-discovery. Each form filled, essay written, and interview given, brings you a step closer to realizing your dreams. At EHS, we remain your steadfast companions, ensuring that from the first step to the last, you walk with confidence and clarity.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Excel High School family, feel free to explore our online courses. If you have any questions or need more information, you can reach out to us by text at 952-465-3700 or call us at 800-620-3844. We’re here to help you on your educational journey!

Remember, with Excel High School, your education is personalized, your pace is respected, and your potential is endless.

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