College Admission Process Tougher Than Most Realize
Melissa Balleza, Staff Writer
July 19, 2011
Filed under Academics
Most students believe senior year was the time for them to relax, socialize with friends and just have a good time all year because once they walked the stage for graduation it was all over for their free public education. Thinking about colleges and a major was something students should already be thinking about when they first entered high school. That decision affected what high school classes they enrolled in, what tests they had to take and just start laying the groundwork for their future. Unfortunately, too many students often put this process off until their senior year. This final year was not just about graduating, but for students to finalize which college or university they always imagined attending; which classes they would choose to enroll in and what they wanted as their major.
One Highlands graduate recently expressed how she did not take the Accuplacer test seriously, did not do the test to her true best ability and it now limited what classes she could take during her freshman year in college. All students need to realize that what they do from their freshman year and on deeply affects what college they will get into after graduation. Some students simply did not take high school seriously, they developed a lengthy record of discipline problems and then were surprised to find out as seniors that something they did as a freshman prevented them from getting into the college of their choice. Even grades a student earned in elective classes during their four years of high school shaped their overall GPA and could prevent them from getting into a good university.
Many seniors were also often surprised to find out how difficult the actual admission process was in addition to getting the grades they needed to get in. How much paperwork was involved, transcripts, test records, admission essays and financial statements that were needed was only a small portion of the admissions process. The deadlines for applying to certain colleges and universities sometimes came early and could be stressful, there could be just one thing missing from an application that could hold it up for weeks or even months. Sometimes this could result in not gaining admission at all to their first choice of a college or university. If there was something missing or incorrect, it was one’s own responsibility to contact the admissions office for the correction. Making these corrections could take serious steps and a lot of wasted time which was frustrating. Even if a student knew the mistake and felt it could easily be corrected, the counselor or whoever was in charge with the admissions may not be easily contacted or were sometimes overwhelmed helping other students. There were often hundreds, if not thousands of other students all applying for admission at the same time and this often created logjams and major delays in the admissions process.
Students were often suddenly pulled into ‘reality’ from the other world they had lived in with their parents and had no true concept about what living or doing things on their own often meant. Though many parents bent over backwards to help their children go to college, some students had to become totally self-reliant without their parents. There were some parents who believed it was their job to only help their kids become adults but once they reached eighteen, they were on their own. The attitude was: ‘You’re on your own, now it’s your own money paying for the education to whatever school you go to,’
Those students fortunate enough to have their parents help them with college expenses needed to do their best during all four years of high school to perhaps earn scholarships or even grants. Then when they actually got to college, they needed their parents help with other living expenses besides tuition, fees, textbooks along with room and board. Some took jobs, some were lucky enough to get by without having to work, but it would not be easy either way. It was the students’ responsibility to do their best in college so not to fail their classes and waste their parents’ money.
But getting into college or university was the hard part. Besides getting good grades and maintain good standing in high school, it took planning. A lot of planning.
The Go Center has many resources and concerned staff to help every student with financial aid, choosing the right college or university, filing paperwork and other general plans after graduation. There are also other programs at school which helped students prepare for the college admission process. Project STAY was one program specifically designed to help with college admissions. Other programs like Communities In Schools, AVID, GEAR UP and even PALs all helped students get ready for college.
Taking college entrance tests could be a total drag and too long for some students, but these tests determined the future for each individual. The Accuplacer is a timed test which determined whether or not a student will need to take remedial classes (a good idea would be to do the best possible so not to take classes which are basically a repeat of high school). The SAT which is also a timed test helps colleges and universities determine admittance upon a student’s critical thinking, reading and math abilities. The SAT is the one test every student needs to take and is the most common test that colleges and universities use to judge a student’s abilities. Keep in mind some colleges also need ACT scores which has four sections like the SAT. The only difference is the essay for the ACT is optional. No matter which school a student chooses, (whether a junior college or a higher institution) the college entrance exams are critical for getting admitted
Whether a student earned a two-year degree or even a PHD, going to college was the next step in building their future. Some college students who excelled in college could sometimes get job offers before graduating; which could shaped their life for years to come
It is a proven fact that people with college degrees overwhelmingly do better financially, mentally, socially and even tend to live longer than those with only a high school diploma According to usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters, those who have a higher education with a masters degree earn about $2.5 million income over their lifetime while those with a doctorate degree make an average of $3.4 million. People with a bachelor’s degree earn about $2.1 million and those who go to work right after high school only earn about $1.2 million during their overall lifetime.
If a student did not want to go to college, there were other alternatives such as trade or vocational schools, enlisting in the military or going directly into the work force. Not every person has what it takes to do well in college, but it is something most students should aspire to achieve.
The numbers may vary, but being happy with a career and what to do in life is important to achieve success and earn a sense of accomplishment. Though money is not everything and earning a degree does not guarantee success, there is a better chance with that degree. It is what a person does with the degree along with determination, motivation and proper attitude that ultimately shapes what they do with their life. Starting in freshman year, students need to realize that everything they do during their four years of high school will determine their future, financial security, health and overall well-being. Start working and planning now.