Wednesday, September 17, 2008

College Applications

Well, child #2 has now been pushed along the college application track. I really stressed over this the first time around being such a hands-on mom. I had checklists and charts on the refrigerator. I made Will have all his essays written before school started in August. It really does work out better for the kid if they have that part done before the homework starts getting piled on. Then, he was able to take his essays to one of his teachers to be edited in September. In hindsight, I realize that I made the process more stressful with the checklist (for me at least, Will never even looked at it), and I eased up a bit on Steven - his essays (only 2) were done Labor Day weekend. Now here it is almost the third week of September and his applications are completely done and sent in with fingers crossed. He did finally decide to do Early Decision at Virginia Tech. We will find out in December. If he gets in there, he'll withdraw his other applications right away.

So here's my advice to anybody who will be going through this process in the future. If you need to re-take the SATs , make sure you sign up for the Oct test date so that scores can be sent in on time.

1. In August, narrow down the list of schools and get their applications, either online or by mail. Write the essays. When school starts up in earnest after Labor Day, take the essays to a trusted teacher for editing/critiquing.

2. By the end of September, decide on recommendations - ask if the person feels they can give you a good recommendation. When you have decided on the person/s, give them addressed, stamped envelopes for each school that wants the recommendation along with whatever form that school wants. Include a "brag sheet", which basically is just a reminder to the teacher of who you are ( you may only have 1 physics teacher, but he may have had 80+ students... just how much do you think he might remember you??). These teachers get asked for tons of recommendations every fall and they are doing them on their own time, so give them a few weeks before asking them if they are finished.

3. In October, submit your applications (with completed essays). Ask your guidance counselor to send transcripts. Most schools' guidance offices have specific instructions for doing this and will have special meetings to go over college stuff with students and parents during September.

Having said that, probably the majority of kids I know didn't get everything done until just before the usual submission date of Jan. 1. I couldn't take that pressure (as a nagging mother, ha). Will had a great fall semester with no worries or pressures about his applications, unlike many of his friends. Steven, I expect, will be feeling the same way now that he is totally done. All that's left is to wait....

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