College Application Season


Brandon Chan, Staff Writer

College application season can be a real pain. Even if you’ve already started writing some of the essays, required or optional, it can be helpful to receive some tips from a college counselor on how to manage your time in order to be as successful as possible. Ms. Fitts, AHS’ college counselor, gave some fantastic advice on how to navigate through the college application season. 

Since this time of year is very hectic for seniors everywhere, it’s best to be organized. An unorganized student is going to have problems keeping track of the countless deadlines for applications and school work.

Ms. Fitts emphasizes that you should have “one place where you keep all application deadlines, requirements, usernames, and passwords; it can be in a binder or a spreadsheet.”

By utilizing this method to organize yourself, you can greatly decrease your stress level when you need to finish a certain section of your college application. A spreadsheet is very helpful because some colleges have similar questions such as describing your favorite activity or what major you are interested in. This allows you to easily view which supplemental questions still have to be answered.

As for the testing aspect of the college application (SAT/ACT), many students are worried that not being able to take one or both of these standardized tests will hurt their chances of being admitted. 

However, Ms. Fitts said, “The Cal States and UCs have gone test blind, meaning they are not going to evaluate test scores even if students send them. For some colleges outside of California, they have gone test-optional.”

She emphasized the need to be confident in yourself and that “you are so much more than a singular test score on paper.” Students shouldn’t be worried about not being able to take an SAT/ACT test because colleges look at the whole body of work.

One of the more important parts of the college application process is writing high-quality essays so that the colleges you are applying to can get to know your personality and interests. You don’t want to write an essay that 100 other students can write. Be unique. 

According to Ms. Fitts, with a good college essay, even if you don’t put a name on it, if you “drop it on the ground somewhere, someone can identify that it is you.” 

This will separate you from the other applicants because it means you stood out from the pack. Additionally, Ms. Fitts recommends searching up the College Essay Guy online for free additional resources to start developing your essays.

Another important aspect of the application is your teacher recommendation letters. When asking your teachers to write you a recommendation letter, make sure you are incredibly polite because these letters do take plenty of time out of their busy schedules. 

When discussing these teacher recommendation letters, Ms. Fitts said, “It is okay to ask sophomore and junior year teachers, but junior year teachers are the better choice. It also doesn’t have to be a teacher from a class you received an A. It can be one where you asked lots of questions and worked hard every day.” 

When applying for college, some students will apply early decision or early action. Early decision is binding, meaning if the student gets into that college, he/she has to attend; on the other hand, early action is not binding. Ms. Fitts explained why early decision can increase students’ chances of getting into their preferred college.

 She said, “Early decision demonstrates to the university that that is the school you want to attend.” She cautions, however, that you must know that this is the college for you since there is no backing out.

For other students, a four-year college may not be the best fit for them and that is perfectly fine. Some alternative options include going to service academies or the more common choice, a community college. 

Ms. Fitts mentions that a community college is great because “you are taking the same courses that you would take at a four-year college.” 

After you attend a community college, you can then transfer and finish the last two years at a four-year college. She also mentioned that PCC has free tuition for AHS students for the first two years, making it a very enticing option. 

Furthermore, since some colleges aren’t open to on-campus visits amid this pandemic, some students may struggle to find a college that is perfect for them.

 In regards to this, Ms. Fitts said, “Naviance is a very good starting point because there are plenty of college searches. Students can also visit college websites to access online virtual tours of the campus.” 

As long as students stay on track of their schedule and deadlines, college application season should hopefully be a little less stressful.


Graphic courtesy of MAGZTER.COM