Things to know about College

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Things to know about College

Postby SakuraSong » Mon Jul 23, 17:58 2007

So, it's my summer before I turn Junior, and we have to start preparing for picking out colleges, but the thing is, I DONT KNOW WHAT IT IS I'M SUPPOSED TO DO.

My school teachers keeps on telling us that it's important to get a lot of things settled about colleges the summer before you turn into a junior or else you'll be swamped with work, but then other teachers tells me that early desicion will cut a lot of loans for me.

Everyone seems to know what to do, but me, I'm just sitting there without a clue. Anything pertaining to colleges would be helpful.


PLEASE HELP ;_;

(By the way, I live in NYC but I have my heart set on going for a Californian education. Most likely I won't get into any colleges because my freshmen and sophmore averages are the pits -65 to 80 oh boy-, but I dont mind, I just want to be able to get into any colleges. I'm not picky.)
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Mon Jul 23, 20:06 2007

Honey, I didn't know which colleges I was applying to until December of Senior Year, and I finished my applications the DAY OF the deadline.

11 applications, 0 rejections.

It's not that bad. :P

You really don't need to freak out, at all.

I didn't apply ANYWHERE early decision. Early decision means that your application is due early- usually November of Senior Year. You'll usually find out in December if you were A accepted, B waitlisted, or C rejected. Early Decision means that you are committing to that school- it is your number one choice school, and if they accept you, you HAVE to go there. Therefore, you can only apply to one school early decision.

The second option that some schools offer is Early Action. It's the same as Early Decision, but non binding- if they accept you, you can still choose to go to a different school.

Early Decision and Early Action applications usually give the applicant a slight edge over the Regular Decision pool. However, they only see the first quarter of your senior year, and you don't have a lot of time to involve yourself (extra curriculars) senior year before your app is due. They WILL check your grades mid year, and at the end of the year- if your grades slip significantly, they may put you on academic probation, or even revoke your admission. SENIORITIS=BAD.

EA and ED also means you need to get all of your testing done early. Your basic tests are the SAT, ACT, and two to four SAT IIs in various subject areas, in addition to any AP exams you may have taken. Not all colleges require SAT II subject tests, especially if you submit ACT scores, but if you take one and do really well, they'll definitely help you. Of course, all of this costs money, so test wisely, and find out what tests your colleges want.

DO NOT FREAK OUT AND TAKE THE SAT FOUR OR FIVE OR SIX TIMES. It's not worth it. I took it once- that's all anyone needs! Don't waste your money on expensive prep courses, either- waste of time. If you want, get a book and work with it on your own, but in general, just look at the practice questions on the College Board website. If you're shaky with grammar, grab a copy of The Elements of Style and make it your bible. Admissions committees are sick and tired of seeing students for whom test taking has become an EC.

Now, the common app. The VAST majority of colleges use the common app- it is your friend. Of my 11 schools, only 2 weren't on the common app. You fill it out ONCE instead of, say, 11 times, and submit it to all your colleges at once. Very often colleges will have their own supplement to the common app, where they might ask you some short answer questions or an additional essay. The common app site is CRAZY helpful because it outlines what you've done, what you still have to do, when your deadlines are, etc. It's a beautiful thing.

Application fees: these run, in my experience, from as little to $30 to as much as $70. Throw in money for sending test scores, money for taking tests... it all gets really pricey, really fast. If you come from a low income family, sometimes the college will waive the application fee- check this all out beforehand.

Um... I think that's a decent overview. Let me know any specific questions

GREAT college research sites:
www.collegeboard.com (make an account here if you haven't already- these people run the SAT and AP exams)
http://www.princetonreview.com/home.asp
http://www.collegeconfidential.com/ (use this one SPARINGLY. it is FULL of obsessive prestige hungry resume stackers- I went here a lot, and was convinced that no colleges would accept me because of it. These people are not the end all be all [I'm referring mostly to their forums here]! They can be helpful, though, so don't be afraid to ask questions.)

Um, yeah. There ya go. I don't know anything about California schools, all the ones I applied to are on the east coast. Sorry. :(
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Mon Jul 23, 23:22 2007

This is HUGE-

make your summers PRODUCTIVE. Even if that just means getting a job (colleges DO like to see that you've had work experience!). If you can do a lot of community service, take classes, do research, etc, that's great too, but don't do nothing. At the very least do some independent study in something that interests you- spend a lot of time at a library, maybe hold discussion groups on a book you and your friends have read... but be productive!

And I totally agree with Kelsa. If YOU are not in control of your college process, things will not turn out how you want them to. My parents had nothing to do with any of my college applications, and I think that was for the best. Of course, you should talk to your parents about your goals and what you're looking for in a school, but you really need to take the initiative. It really makes me uncomfortable when I find out that some people let their parents do it all for them.

Edit: Also, colleges like to see a rising trend. It's much better to have poor grades freshman year than junior year (which is your most important year for applications). If your jr and sr year grades show a clear effort and trend towards improvement, that can work in your favor. Maybe elaborate on why you originally did poorly, or what motivated you to do better.
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Postby monk » Tue Jul 24, 2:04 2007

the four year major university gig is a good way to go but remember that it's not the only way to go.
I have given an option below for California, maybe there's something similar in NYC?

In the area of Southern California where I grew up the kids I graduated with who didn't have the best grades or SAT scores yet still had college aspirations went to one of the local junior colleges for one or two years and then transferred in to the major University when they had some decent college level grades to overwrite their poor high school performance.
In fact the Junior colleges usually had afilliations with one or two of the Nearby four year schools to help those who weren't overachievers make the transistion. and note that the junior colleges are on the same loan/grant/aid programs that the four year schools have.

The big bonus about junior colleges is that THEY ACCEPT EVERYONE so if your efforts at getting into a major four year in California fail just know that you can go the Junior college route for a year or two and then transfer.

The difficulty will be that the Junior Colleges basically expect you to take care of yourself cause all they are is a campus for classes, there are no dorms so you will have to live off campus and basically grow the fuck up before you start going there because they don't babysit.(meaning-->place to live(shared apartment),transportation(bicycle)food(you will be a ramen chef), etc etc.)if you have a car, know that Southern California is one of the few places you can live in your car all year long and survive w/out too much hassle.

Another bonus about Junior College is that's it's cheaper than a four year school and if you spend 2 years In California going to the junior college by the time you transfer to a four year school you are a California resident and the tuition is much cheaper for residents so after your four year college career if you have taken out loans you will actually owe less money than if you had gone all four years at the major uni.

Also, if you find that college is not the thing for you the Junior Colleges offer two year associates degrees so you wont have completely wasted your time if you decide to quit.
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Postby Obsessive Compulsive Emu » Tue Jul 24, 10:37 2007

I think junior year is the time to seriously consider what you like doing academically.

I found an even greater depth for my love of Chemistry, renewed enjoyment for Math, and I found that I really can't stand English.

This is why I will not be attending a liberal arts university or a university that places emphasis on 'well-rounded students' or 'two years of general study'. Seriously, if I'm going to be a Chemist or Chemical Engineer, is there any reason to know the history of the Byzantine Empire?

These are the sort of things you need to find out about yourself. Do you want to be 'well-rounded' and take many different classes in many different subject areas? Is there a specific subject that you are interested in? If so, start there, and make sure any school that you're looking at has that major, and other similar majors (ex. If I'm studying to be a chemical engineer, I want my school to have both chemical engineering and plain old chemistry as majors. This would probably ensure that the chemistry classes I'm taking are good ones).

I wouldn't say that junior year is the time to start major college planning. Sure it's fine to dig around a bit and definitely do things that will help you get into college (clubs, honor societies, tests), but currently even as a senior, I can't do much to get into college. I can look at and research schools, but most of the ones I'm looking at won't even have their applications up until the end of August.
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Postby Enigma » Fri Jul 27, 12:00 2007

Seriously what is up with American grades if 65-80 is the pits? I got into a very respectable school on a final average of 72% here in Canada. Is it grade inflation or is everyone just paranoid?
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Fri Jul 27, 13:03 2007

Enigma wrote:Seriously what is up with American grades if 65-80 is the pits? I got into a very respectable school on a final average of 72% here in Canada. Is it grade inflation or is everyone just paranoid?
Hahaha. Competition is so high that to get into top schools, you are expected to have nearly perfect grades. I'm sure there's grade inflation at some schools, ha, but not at mine.

BTW Sakura- I know you say you want to get away, but SUNY Stony Brook is a GREAT school for the money. It's still somewhat of a drive from where you are now, and the campus is really pretty, and the food's great, and it has a ridiculously huge Asian community. Really I think it's the best of the SUNY schools, regardless of what people say about Binghamton.
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Postby FernGully » Fri Jul 27, 14:30 2007

I think there is a difference for marks in Canada and the states in that if you have a 70% average or so, you're likely to get in somewhere at least by the final round of acceptance a school issues.
However, if you have higher marks, the schools will start offering you money. Otherwise you will get nothing.


But as for stressing about post-secondary in your junior year (what is that, 11th grade? You crazy Americans and your calling things names), don't. Your high school is going to tell you you absolutely need to know everything nownownow or you will fail at life, but really, all they're trying to do is to scare you into realizing that yes, sometime soon you will have to make decisions. The reality is that by this time in high school, all you need to be doing is casually browsing through schools you think you'll be interested in going to. If your high school is anything like mine, schools from our province would come with a representative and host a little info session and boast about their school. They would then give you these little booklets/brochures, and you simply hang on to these. If you go to all the little meetings, you will get a whole bunch. Then, you look at all your brochures and booklets and decide which schools are in say, your top 10, and hang on to those booklets. Then later you can go to greater lengths by visiting a school, or calling for information.

The one thing I encourage you to do early is looking at the loans stuff. Find out right away what you're eligible for and look at grants and scholarships. Make a list of everything that might apply to you, and write down all the dates and deadlines that are important.

Seriously though, at this point, you need only concern yourself with thinking about colleges casually I think. I think that everyone who tells you they have everything mapped out already are kidding themselves. A lot can change in 2 years time, and I think you'll have to time and the opportunity to figure out more about what you want out of college and which colleges you want it out of, over the course of this year and your senior year. Don't stress so much, the workload is never as heavy as they claim it will be, especially in high school.
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Postby SakuraSong » Sun Jul 29, 22:46 2007

Thank you SO much! This is why I'm glad I went to spacefemmers for advice instead, because the few people I went to ask about colleges were all "What, you don't have everything done now? OH MY GOD YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO GET INTO COLLEGE AND YOU'LL LIVE IN A BOX FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE".

Again, I don't have big aspirations or anything like that. Actually, I prefer a really really small and unknown college, because my current high school has 4600 students alone every year, and it drives me up the wall and batshit crazy. Since we're in competition with Stuyvesant as "Best High School In NYC", everyone takes college and work very seriously, so I was a little freaked out when I realized that I know nothing about colleges at all.

My cousin got a full ride to Stonybrook, and another one got a full ride to Columbia of all places. Binghamton, Albany, Buffalo, scholarships pouring in, you name it, my family's done it.

I actually found all this information to be VERY helpful, and I'm so printing it and sticking it up next to my bed for the next two years.

My parents knows even less than me though. They said that I have to provide the money for everything, because college is the school "for adults" and that I cannot rely on them forever. Tests, admissions, whatever, it's all on me. So they taking over the whole college admissions thing isn't a problem.

Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REPLYING, everyone. You don't know how relieved you've made me.

And I wish I lived in Canada now.
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Postby Pyro Chick » Mon Jul 30, 11:43 2007

I definitely agree with using collegeboard.com

Use the college matchmaker. They let you put down everything you want about college (major, location, price, size, etc) and then give you a list of all your options.

I do suggest looking for college as early as possible. It's not necessary, but it will help you.
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Postby Flying Betty » Mon Jul 30, 13:27 2007

PS- When you take the SAT (or presumably any other standardized exam) your mailbox will be FLOODED with propaganda from schools that want you to apply. You can flip through that and get a sense of what sort of scores the schools that send to you are looking for and ask for more information from the places that look interesting.
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Postby Turc » Tue Jul 31, 16:46 2007

One tip that I don't think anyone else mentioned, but then I don't know if it's still offered... before I took the SAT I took the PSAT--- your performance on that can make you eligible for some scholarships, plus it prepares you for the actual test without really counting for anything.


Also, I think it's completely bizarre that you're supposed to have everything decided before you're a junior... I think that's a load of crap, personally. You have plenty of time to figure things out and pull your grades up, get involved, etc. unless you're planning on graduating early from high school. I applied to five schools in October of my senior year, and that was still way early compared to everyone else in my honors classes-- I just wanted to get them out of the way. The schools I applied to had rolling applications so it didn't matter when I applied for them, really. I didn't figure out what major I wanted until spring of my senior year, and even then, I changed majors after my first semester of college.

So yes, planning is important-- for instance, figuring out where you want to go and how you need to get there-- but you don't have to have everything settled now.
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Postby SakuraSong » Wed Aug 1, 12:25 2007

The PSATs were required at my school, as well as the SATs. The only thing was that the school paid for every test taken, and you actually get severly punished if you didn't show up for it.


As for money issues, I know they look at your parent's finances before accepting you. My family doesn't have much money because only my mother is employed as a seamstress, and she's already under strain to send my sister off to college this year. Besides for scholarships (I dont have a chance of that), I wanted to ask anyone if they knew how student loans work. Do they let you borrow as much money as you need for all four years of your college education, or is it only for half a year before you have to go and look for your own money to get by? Interest? And what are grants?
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Wed Aug 1, 13:15 2007

If you truly come from a low income family, you'll probably be okay with your financial aid, especially if you have a sibling(s) going to college. I know you aren't looking at Ivies, but just for an example, a lot of them have the policy that if she total family income is under 60K, the child gets a full ride.

If you're actually middle class, however... loans, loans, loans.

I'm still a bit in the dark about it, myself. Sorry I can't be too much help there.
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Postby SakuraSong » Wed Aug 1, 13:20 2007

Le_Pingouin wrote:If you truly come from a low income family, you'll probably be okay with your financial aid, especially if you have a sibling(s) going to college. I know you aren't looking at Ivies, but just for an example, a lot of them have the policy that if she total family income is under 60K, the child gets a full ride.

If you're actually middle class, however... loans, loans, loans.

I'm still a bit in the dark about it, myself. Sorry I can't be too much help there.


Too bad I'm not going to an Ivy League then, because I'd definitely get that full ride >.>
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Postby FernGully » Wed Aug 1, 13:53 2007

I know I'm not American, but I'm under the impression that there is a lot of money out there if you look hard enough for it.

Currently I go to school on a bank loan, because I'm not eligible for OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program - my parents make too much, but I'm paying for school myself). When I was accepted to university I was given a scholarship (it's big here, but in the states it would seem like absolutely nothing - $2000) and that went towards books and such. My tuition itself is paid for by a student line of credit (a bank loan), which I max out each year in September and slowly work at paying it off before the next September comes up.

I never looked at outside scholarships because I'm really lazy and I hate myself for it now. There is honestly so much money out there for you if you are truly in need. I don't want to sound like a jackass, but there is a lot more money (more so) for someone in a minority group then those run-of-the-mill types like me. Also, by showing severe financial need, there are government grants (they give you the money), bursaries (they give you the money) and awards (more moneyyyy, and it isn't always about marks).

In most cases there are scholarships you can apply for that don't necessarily rely on your grades, but have you write a personal statement about maybe what you hope to study and why you above others deserve some money in order to do it.
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Postby Nachos » Fri Aug 3, 5:16 2007

There are lots of scholarships for lots of little things out there that you can do. Just google scholarships. Just keep applying to things and the more you get, the more the money racks up. If you can take time off from school to write a few essays and things like that, then you're good.
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Fri Aug 3, 10:52 2007

What are you going to study? Sometimes there are scholarships for "Women in <insert>". Usually those only apply for the hard sciences, but who knows!
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Postby SakuraSong » Fri Aug 3, 13:16 2007

Le_Pingouin wrote:What are you going to study? Sometimes there are scholarships for "Women in <insert>". Usually those only apply for the hard sciences, but who knows!


I'm studying Civil Engineering right now, but what I really want to go for is Mechanical Enginneering. If not, I (seriously) want to go for the FBI. Not joking either.
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Postby Le_Pingouin » Fri Aug 3, 15:22 2007

Women in Engineering is huge, I'm sure you can find scholarships for that.
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Postby monk » Fri Aug 3, 22:39 2007

SakuraSong wrote: I (seriously) want to go for the FBI. Not joking either.


from what I understand, the path to that usually requires either a small stint in the military or at least 2 years in a patrol job in state or local law enforcement plus a degree.

You can't do law enforcement till you're 21 but you could do the military thing right out of high school and it would help you pay for college too
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Postby SilverHammer » Sun Aug 5, 6:06 2007

You have a more functioning and much better college office than I had when I was applying. Take advantage of it. Sign up in 1W2 to have visits with Malch, the earlier you go the better it will be, because once more kids realize they can go to him, it will be harder to find time and he won't be able to get to know you as well. He is an incredibly knowledgeable man and can be very helpful if you let him.


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