Graduating and Clueless
By Purvi S. Mody | For StudentAdvisor.com
QUESTION: I am graduating high school in a couple of months and am so lost about what to do next. I did not think that I could get into colleges so I did not apply. But now that graduation is coming up, I think I do want to go to college. Can I still get in?
ANSWER: Many people would be surprised to learn that some colleges are still accepting applications for the Fall. Space is limited and the longer you wait, the fewer seats will be available. If you are serious about applying to college, the first thing you need to do is check out the list of colleges at www.nacacnet.org/space. Here you can get a list of which colleges are still receptive to Freshman applicants. If you decide to pursue applying, you need to make sure that you can get the necessary documents in on time. Talk to your teachers about getting letters of recommendations. If you have good relationships with them, they are likely to help you out. Talk to your school counselor about getting the appropriate letters and forms. And request official copies of your transcripts. Also, only apply to programs where you have met the minimum requirements in terms of classes, grades, and standardized test scores. You don’t want to waste you effort and time.
The part of the process that will take the most thought and time will be the application itself and more specifically the essays. Really sit down and think about what you want the college to know about you. While the college may not ask it specifically, they admissions officers will want to know why you waited so long to apply. Be honest and sincere in your response. Admissions officers will appreciated your candor. If you submit your application within two weeks, you may hear back before graduation. But be ready to wait it out a bit longer just in case.
If this feels like too much pressure all at once, going the community college route is an amazing option. In the first two years of college, most students are completing their general education requirements, which is what you would do at community college. If you want to transfer, most colleges will not require any standardized tests, which is great news for students that have not taken any yet or for students that do not perform as well on those types of exams. You also get a clean slate grade wise. So if your high school grades are less than stellar, use your time in community college to really focus on academics and get the best grades possible. This will open up doors for you when it is time to transfer. Going to community college will also give you a little time to figure out what you want to major in and where you will want to apply to down the road. Currently you are limited to those schools still accepting applications. In two years, there will be many more options. If this is a path that you want to consider, you can apply now for the community college close to you. You can start taking classes either during the summer or during the Fall. When you start, meet with an academic advisor on campus and talk about your longer term goals. The advisor can guide you on which courses to take and what you can do to best increase your chance of transfer admission down the road.
I really commend you for thinking about your future now. It is definitely not too late to think about college. You just have to think through your different options and see what is best for you. You can also apply for Freshman admissions now and if you are not accepted, then reapply as a transfer. It would be a great idea to go talk to your school counselor as well. Perhaps he or she can recommend the best colleges for you and help you through the admissions process. Don’t be shy about asking for help. You will hopefully find that many people will support you in your goals. Good Luck!
Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals.