I remember college prep. For me, it was only a decade ago when I nervously stood in the Registrar line for what seemed like hours only to find that when I reached the window an abrasive attendant was quick to tell me that I had the wrong forms and needed this a new form stamped by another person in another line in a different place.
The college adviser seemed to be pointing in every which direction towards forms and lines. Long story short, I had no idea what I was doing as a brand new college Freshman. What I CAN tell you is the complicated aspect of college admissions has not changed.
From financial aid approval to class registration – college admissions is confusing. One aspect that has changed in the last ten years, is the lines. You no longer need to stand in lines to get forms and approvals during your college admissions process. Even for the aspects of college admission that require your face-to-face presence, students register online as part of their college application or college admissions interview.
There are a number of other things that have changed about college over the years. For example, colleges are more selective than they used to be. Colleges can be more selective because more and more high school students are moving on to attend these “name brand” schools so-to-speak. The more applicants, the more choosy a college can be.
However, colleges and universities are also able to accept more students than ever before. Both an increase in college applicants and an increase in the number of college students can be attributed to the Internet as more and more schools are able to offer online college courses.
Our friends at International College Counselors have come across 9 things you should know when applying to college.
1. Obsession about majors. Many schools encourage students to declare majors right when they come in. Many parents discourage students from considering majors in which there isn’t a clear path to a high-paying (or, at least, some kind of) job. And many students think it’s a point of special pride to do a double (or sometimes even triple) major. Not to mention picking up a minor or two on the side.
2. More applications. Students are applying to more schools. While we recommend that students apply to 6-8 well-chosen schools, many decide to apply to 12 or more. Applying to a larger number of schools likely means students have more options if they aren’t accepted into their top choices. The Common Application also allows students to apply to more schools much more easily. (It was a lot harder to manually type on the given page).
3. SAT / ACT (and other standardized test) Seriousness. SAT / ACT review classes and private tutoring sessions are much better attended than in decades before. Many new test prep products exist and the Internet offers hundreds test prep methods.
4. Longer time to degree. The four-year college degree has largely faded. Now students commonly attend college for five, six, or even seven years Some reasons: more onerous requirements, weak advising, students working while at college, and students taking more semesters off. Students planning to spend more than four years in college need to keep in mind that states may place caps on the number of semesters students can attend while paying in-state tuition.
5. Community college explosion. Community colleges are flourishing. They are attracting students who are interested in getting associate degrees or some college experience before transferring to four-year colleges. But in a new twist, some students at four-year colleges now are picking up courses at community colleges from time to time-when they want to be closer to home, need less expensive credits, want to take classes with a professor rather than a TA, or can’t get into classes they need at their own school.
6. New online opportunities. Distance-learning institutions, such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and Devry University are no longer the only colleges that offer students a chance to get a degree online. A diverse range of schools including Oregon State, Florida State University, University of South Florida, Penn State, Drexel, and the State University of New York (SUNY) system all offer undergraduate online degrees.
A number of big-name schools are also offering massive open online courses (MOOC). This is something great: top-notch professors in your own living room at no charge! Check out Coursera, Udacity, edX and others for classes from universities that include Stanford, MIT and Harvard.
7. Social media considerations. College admissions has been greatly affected by social media. The vast majority of schools use some form of social media as a means of recruiting applicants and communicating with them. Students can also use social media to showcase their talents with blogs, video and more. On the flip side, schools are known to look at an applicant’s online presence as they make their admissions decision, so be aware of this.
8. Independent college advisers. Many families from all over world hire independent college advisers. Families realize that to eliminate family stress, and to navigate the confusing process, an adviser is essential. Some New York based advisers even charge over $40,000 (while getting the same services and results offered by International College Counselors at a much lower cost, we’d like to add)!
9. Information flooding. It has been said that there is almost too much information available for current applicants and their families. Students can learn about schools in hundreds of ways from websites and student reviews to virtual college fairs and numerous rankings from different sources that all give weight to different criteria. Students can also discover many schools they may never have known about back in the days of the 10 pound college guidebook, the primary (and in some cases only) college search resource of the “old days”.
In many ways applying for college may have seemed more straight forward ten years ago when I stood in the Registrar’s line for hours only to have someone point me in this and that direction. Even if I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, at least I had someone who could physically point me here or there. However, applying for college doesn’t have to be difficult. Since attending college, I have personally spent two years as a college admissions counselor and four years as a financial aid adviser. Here at SAT Prep Group we have a number of professionals who have spent years as teachers and advisers. We are here to help you in any way possible. Please contact us with your questions. We are always here to help.
SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.