Prep for College Admissions: 4 Easy Tips

Posted November 27, 2013 by
Admissions and other words written on a chalkboard

Admissions and other words written on a chalkboard. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

“But she just started high school,” you think to yourself, when your daughter brings home info about the PSAT. She’s doing all that she can to keep up in her physics class, and now she’s supposed to start thinking about the next four-year segment of her education? A Forbes article titled “Why Start Preparing for College in the Sixth Grade” says as many as 90 percent of college-bound high school seniors wish they’d started preparing earlier. Today’s high school students juggle college prep classes, sports and part-time jobs, all while researching colleges, choosing fields of study and applying for financial aid. Here are four things your teen should remember to help them navigate the path to college:

Tip 1: Set Deadlines For College Applications

It may sound silly to add application date deadlines into your calendar, but if you don’t you risk missing out on scholarship money or entrance into the college of your dreams. Starting with freshman year, My College Calendar outlines steps to ensure you’re on the right track. As you obtain application forms, note the deadlines, and set reminders for at least two weeks prior so you have time to review.

Tip 2: Keep your papers safe.

If you didn’t already know your Social Security Number by heart, you will once you get through all your applications and financial aid papers. Your Social Security number is now on dozens of papers and floating around on documents in cyberspace. Lifelock reports that youth are prime targets for ID theft because parents tend not to expect it. Protecting your social security # now so later in life you do not have to deal with the difficulties of ruined credit and identity theft.

Tip 3: Ace University Interviews

Chances are you’ve had practice with this, and now it’s time to take your interviewing skills to the next level; thousands of dollars in scholarships are on the line. Take a class in public speaking to gain confidence and learn to create concise and thoughtful sentences. Spend time searching the web for lists of college interview and scholarship interview questions, such as’s College Admissions page and Brigham Young University’s scholarship interview questions. Practice with a few classmates, asking and answering the questions and then recruit teachers or mentors to give you mock interviews.

Tip 4: Perfect College Application Essays.

Colleges are looking for articulate students who can translate their thoughts into well-crafted essays. Essays play key roles in winning scholarship money because it’s impossible for all scholarship organizations to conduct face-to-face interviews. Consider giving up your summer job for a few weeks to enroll in a writing class, or hire a private writing coach. If a tutor isn’t in your budget, seek a family friend or mentor who you know has excellent writing skills. Write in a journal on a daily basis to develop and improve writing skills.

By Joyce Sadler

Joyce is a financial advisor from San Diego.

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