College admission quagmire decoded
For high school students, time flies by, and graduation sneaks up faster than expected. But lurking behind the daily routine of football games, high school dances, and debate team meetings, high school students have the task of figuring out, what comes next?
According to Dana Ardovino, Park City High School (PCHS) scholarship advisor, about 86 percent of PCHS seniors plan to go directly to college and laying the groundwork for that transition takes a lot of time, planning, and organization.
Planning for college should start early. Ardivno puts a blank resume in the hands of eighth grade students and challenges them to fill it up by the time they graduate from high school. Ardovino explained that students who have an organized and well-rounded resume are a step ahead in the college application process.
In order to craft a resume that will impress college admissions officers, students should follow a few guidelines. Ardovino tells students that there are five things they can do to build a desirable, well-rounded resume: get involved in a passion, join clubs, do community service, step up and be a leader, and get a job or internship.
Although the process is a little different for every student, there are a number of things high schoolers should do each year. The following is a timeline for high school students looking to apply for college.
When students enter their freshmen year of high school, it’s already time for them to start thinking about college. Amy Regan, who works with Educational Talent Search at the South Summit School District, says ninth grade is the time to start looking around to see what kinds of resources are available. She adds that students need to enroll in all the core subjects their freshman year.
To get students started on post high school goals, South Summit ninth graders take part in Student Education Occupational Planning (SEOP) meetings. Regan explained that these meetings are a useful time for students to speak with counselors about what they want to be when they grow up, and what they need to do to get there. Regan advises young students to take every opportunity to talk to professionals about their jobs. Ninth graders can also begin the standardized testing game by taking the Explore test, which is a pre- ACT test.
the time students enter their sophomore year, they should continue doing everything they were doing in ninth grade, keep their grades up, and get involved. Extra-curricular activities are important and, according to Regan, anything is good. She said that colleges look for a well-rounded individual, and students should be involved in whatever interests them.
Sophomores can take the PLAN test, which is a pre-ACT test. This test will be offered at PCHS on Saturday, Oct. 18. Register at the high school counselor’s office before Oct. 13. All South Summit tenth graders will be given the test this year, according to Regan. Sophomores who attend Park City or North Summit are encouraged to sign up for the test, too.
Students should start attending college fairs and collecting information about schools they may be interested in when they reach their junior year, if they haven’t done so already, Regan explained.
Eric Tedford, a sophomore at the University of Utah urges students not to limit their options by only applying to a few schools. He said that he didn’t apply to some schools because he thought they would be too expensive, but then after he received some scholarships he realized maybe he could have gone to those schools.
Ardovino said that many students use winter or spring break of their junior year to visit colleges. Students can get a much more realistic feel for a college if they visit the school during the school year instead of over the summer. Ardovino explained that if students want to go to school in the North East, for example, visiting during winter when the weather can be fierce will help students know if the school is right for them.
Juniors can take the Preliminary-SAT in October. This year the PSAT is being held on Oct. 18, and students can register after Sept. 17. The test will be administered at PCHS. To register for the PSAT, fill out a registration form in the PCHS counseling office.
The PSAT is used to qualify students into the National Merit Scholarship system and is a good opportunity for students to practice taking standardized tests. Ardovino explained that the more experience students have taking this kind of test, the better they generally do.
In the spring of their junior year, Ardovino said that students should consider taking either the SAT or ACT test. Ardovino explained that students need to take the test early enough to allow them to retake it, if needed.
This spring, the ACT is being held the following days (registration deadlines are listed in parenthesis): Feb. 7 (Jan. 6), April 4 (Feb. 27), and June 13 (May 8). Registration can be done online at http://www.actstudent.org . None of the Summit County high schools are certified testing centers, so students will need to take the test in Salt Lake City or Heber City. Students interested in taking the SAT can find more information at http://www.collegeboard.com . The SAT isn’t proctored at any of the Summit County high schools, either.
Tedford explained that his senior year of high school he kept a notebook with all the important dates written down. He also said that students should listen to their parents and counselors, because they often issue reminders before most important deadlines.
Ardovino has noticed that many schools and scholarships have a GPA cut-off. She tells students that if they’re just below 3.0 or 3.5, they could benefit tremendously by buckling down and getting above that mark.
Also, fall is time to re-take standardized tests if students haven’t yet achieved the scores they’re aiming for. The ACT will be held Oct. 25 this fall, and the deadline to sign-up is Sept. 19. Students can still register to take the SAT this fall on Oct. 4. The registration day has already passed, but students can still register before Sept. 16 but they have to pay a late fee. The SAT is also offered Nov. 1; register by Sept. 26.
The fall and winter of a student’s senior year is time to fill out admissions and scholarship applications. Ardovino warns students that many schools have a priority application deadline, a regular application deadline, a scholarship application deadline, and a financial aid deadline that are all different. Sometimes the scholarship deadline is before the financial aid application deadline, Ardovino explained. Students need to check with each school to find out when their deadlines fall.
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students should fill out the FAFSA the winter of their senior year, as soon as possible after their family files their income taxes. The FAFSA can be filled out online at http://www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov .
Along with college applications, and financial aid applications, seniors can apply for community scholarships. The following are important days for students applying for local community scholarships at PCHS:
March 30: Applications available
April 24: Applications due
May 28: Scholarship awards presentation
Many resources are available for students and parents applying for colleges. Ardovino said that almost everything can be done online these days, and her favorite websites are: http://www.bridges.com , http://www.collegeboard.org , http://www.fastweb.com , and http://www.pchs.pcschools.us . Counselors at PCHS are available to help, and can be reached at 645-5657.
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