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Tips For Students Applying to College This Fall


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By Stuart Jenner

Tick, tick, tick…the clock is ticking for students applying to colleges this Fall. UW Seattle has a deadline of November 15. Some colleges will have “rolling admissions” where they accept students who apply in the winter or spring. However, applying sooner is better for many reasons, mainly because the application process can be very stressful and time-consuming. Here are some tips for parents, students, family members, and neighbors.

  1. Be patient and gentle when asking questions of anyone (parent, student, teacher) about the college application process. There are a lot of ups and downs. Well-meaning questions may increase the stress on students and others. I’ve recently read “Mindful Admissions: An Insider’s Guide to Staying Sane, Applying Well and Getting Accepted to College,” a book on college admissions by the former director of admissions at New York University. She said one of the biggest requests from students has been for others to back off on asking questions about the student’s admissions status and interests.
  2. The process has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Some colleges are test-optional or even test-blind, meaning they will not even consider test scores. Many students apply to more schools than students of 20 years ago: 8 to 10 schools is not uncommon, compared to just a handful in the previous generation.
  3. The Admissions department’s decisions are based only on the information schools ask for. Every school has a different mix of criteria that they consider or exclude. For example, the University of Washington does not accept letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, employers, or others. They make minimal use of test scores, so students do not need to submit them. This makes it essential for students to”tell their own story” and be sure the UW has everything the applicant wants them to know.
  4. There is free support available for students and families. School counselors are stretched thin, but many Highline area schools partner with organizations such as College Access Now or the College Success Foundation. These groups will help with financial aid applications, college essays (for the schools that require them), and all the other details that go into the application.
  5. For those who would like to attend a 4-year university while staying more local, Satellite Campuses are a great option. There are UW branch campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Bachelor’s programs are now offered at school sites that previously only hosted two-year programs. Examples include teacher training programs of Central Washington University offered at the campus of Highline College and a Bachelor’s degree in a Computer Science Program offered by Bellevue College.

In closing,  the college application process can be stressful, but it is also exciting, marking a major milestone in the students’ lives and an opportunity for personal growth. Best wishes with your applications and to any others you know who are applying!

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