By Isabel Ehrlich
When we hear the word college there are many thoughts that go through our heads; Will I get in? Will I be able to afford it? Will I go? Do I stay in state or leave? Or maybe your head goes more towards; I’m gonna party all 4 years! I’m sure I’ll make it big with an art degree! In all honesty, these are all valid thoughts, but there are some things that never seem to be addressed; Where do I find scholarships? What am I supposed to do with all these college brochures? What does my PSAT/SAT/ACT score mean for me? How does the world of applications and paperwork, work? As a freshman, sophomore, and junior we all hear that this is all preparing for college but not to worry because we won’t have to deal with this for 3, 2, 1 year(s). But, what if you don’t expect any help from family or don’t see that you have the best prospects for anything (after all everyone says you’re smart) and you only see the red ink? Where do you start?
I have no idea what you should do, but I can tell you what I did:
(Feel free to shuffle these steps in any order that you want, this is just how I did it.)
(Also have some clue what you want to study or experience.)
Step 1) Panic. Yeah, I said panic. See, when I panic beforehand I start I make it into a competition between me and myself. How do I do that? Well, if I panic and decide that I can’t do it, then I have to prove myself wrong.
Step 2) Organize (at least kinda). For me, this is somewhat of a challenge, so I did the cliched thing and got a corkboard (pinboard, whatever). On it I have several columns which mean absolutely nothing, and I have the names of all the colleges that are interested in me and all the colleges I am interested in. Now this means that I am willing to attend these places and that either they are interested in me or that I wish I could go there. In middle school, we had to fill out these forms that linked us with a program called myCollegeOptions it gave me a place to start, but when you take the PSAT you are linked to College Board, which is a pretty decent starting place. It shows where you have to start and where you should keep looking.
Step 3) Take the stupid tests. Take the PSAT, it shows where you need to work, and it puts your name on the radar of schools and scholarships. You will have to take either the SAT or ACT to attend pretty much any school in the US, and if you are looking internationally you have to take some form of government-issued standardized test anyway (The Brits have the A-Levels, the Irish the Leaving Cert, the French the Baccalauréat, etc.). Most people take both the ACT and the SAT because the tests are different and it allows for people to show strengths or weaknesses in certain areas with more ease.
Step 4) Deal with the emails and brochures and tacky sales pitches that don’t tell you anything. Figure out where in the country you want to live and find ratings on your program at that school. And then go and dig on them on the internet go to chat rooms and teacher/school rating things looking especially at your program.
That’s it. As time goes on you should talk to Mr. Marman about what he thinks will be a good fit for you, and definitely do things your own way.
Tell me what you think what you’re trying to do or what you have done!