Magazine article Careers & Colleges

Who Ya Gonna Call? the College Admissions Process Can Be Daunting. Where Can You Turn for Help?

Magazine article Careers & Colleges

Who Ya Gonna Call? the College Admissions Process Can Be Daunting. Where Can You Turn for Help?

Article excerpt

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You may be basking in the dog days of summer now, but in just a few short weeks you'll be trading your beach books for college catalogs and poring over applications, financial aid forms, websites, and deadlines. Hey, nobody ever said getting into college was easy!

You're bound to have questions along the way. But it's not always clear where to turn for answers--your high school guidance counselor? A college admissions rep? The financial aid office? The Web?

Whether you're just starting your college search or ready to plan your freshman schedule, here's where to find answers to your questions.

The college search

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"High school counselors are the primary source for [students who are just] beginning to look at colleges," says David Hawkins, director of public policy for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. "They should know the student, and can help them consider colleges that would be a good fit academically and personally." Hawkins also recommends online resources such the U.S. Department of Education's College Navigator site (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/). You'll also find information about colleges and the admissions process at www.careersandcolleges.com.

You may have also received information directly from colleges. "Many colleges are reaching out to students earlier in their high school careers, even as early as freshman year--particularly students from low-income backgrounds," Hawkins notes.

During your college search, cast a wide net and keep an open mind. Consider seriously your counselor's college recommendations, but do your own research, too: go online, talk to current college students, and ask parents, teachers, and other adults about their alma maters.

CALL: High school counselor, online resources, college students, friends, family members, colleges

College visits

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Ready to pay a visit? Colleges are eager to help you arrange tours, accommodations, information sessions, and meetings with students who can give an inside look at the campus. In fact, college officials are usually willing to answer questions and help--even if you haven't yet applied to their school! Contact the admission office to schedule your visit.

High school guidance counselors are usually not directly involved in planning campus visits, but they can provide information about how to carry out the visit and who to contact.

When you visit, be sure to talk to current students, especially those who are enrolled in any areas of study you're considering. It's also helpful to meet with a faculty member; the college's admission staff can help you arrange this.

CALL: College admissions office, high school counselor

High school academics

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Predictably, your high school counselor is your primary contact for questions or concerns about your high school academic record. However, it's also a good idea to contact the admission office of any college you're considering to ensure that you fully understand the academic requirements for applicants.

Robert Bardwell, a high school counselor at Monson High School in Monson, Massachusetts, meets with juniors in early spring to discuss their current classes and senior year course selection. Most high school counselors will automatically review seniors' schedules, but you might want to schedule a meeting with your counselor to be sure.

CALL: High school counselor, college admissions office

College academics

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Your high school counselor can help familiarize you with what different programs of study will generally look like in college. For specific requirements for a particular program of study, including sample schedules, contact your college's admission rep, check the school's web site, or request a current course catalog. …

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