Tips for Navigating the College Application Process: A Guide for High School Students

In this post, you could share your experience and advice on how to research colleges, write compelling personal statements, gather strong letters of recommendation, and prepare for interviews. You could also offer tips on how to stay organized during the application process and manage deadlines effectively. Additionally, you could provide insights on how to choose the right college for your academic and personal goals, and what to expect during the admissions decision process. This post could be a helpful resource for high school students who are starting to think about applying to college.

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I will start with one very important word…DEADLINES. Make sure you adhere to every single deadline for applications and financial aid at every single college you apply to. Actually, plan to submit about a week early. Don’t wait until the last minute…and don’t be late.

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Just a note that CC also has many articles that cover some of these topics in their library.

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Is this for your student? If so, what year are they in HS and what type of college are they thinking of applying to? I would suggest starting off by talking to your HS counselor.

  1. Student needs to know their annual college budget…get this from the parents because you can’t go if you can’t pay.

  2. Student needs to make a list of characteristics they want in a college…things like size, location (urban, suburban, rural), geographic area (either location or distance from home), possible majors, possible activities.

  3. Student needs to look at their stats and be realistic about acceptance chances. Find a couple of affordable sure things for admission that the student would be happy to attend. Build your list UP from there.

  4. If any schools are rolling admissions or early action…apply early. It’s very nice to have a first acceptance early in the process.

  5. Personal statement needs to be personal…both in the content and the voice it’s written in. This is something the student really needs to do.

  6. LOR need to be requested towards the end of your junior year thus giving time to staff to write them. Your school likely has a guideline for this. In terms of getting good LOR…be a good and conscientious student. That’s the best way to get a good LOR.

  7. Interviews at most colleges are optional.


@momofboiler1, do you have some threads you can recommend and have them listed on here?

Joy’s article on the home page is great: Navigating the College Application Process in 2023-24: Trends and Tips from Jeff Selingo

The pinned thread on the importance of having a safety school: Loving Your Safety School

Criteria for selecting colleges: Share criteria important in your “in-house” ranking of colleges?

Financial aid AMA: Parent of Two, Highly Knowledgeable in Financial Aid Matters - ASK ME ANYTHING!

Last year’s post with some links embedded: It’s that time of year…unfortunately

I’d also recommend that parents going through the process for the first time follow the GT admission blog by Rick Clark. Lots of information there that is applicable across the board.

There are countless others but this a start!

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