Stock application business

High schoolers have a lot on their plate. School work, extracurricular activities and standardized testing all take time and effort. During their junior and senior years, college applications add more stress.

Victor Courtney, manager advising programs and services at College Now Greater Cleveland; Beth Ford, vice president for enrollment at Notre Dame College in South Euclid; and Emily Haggerty, director of admission at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, said there are a few key steps to make the college application process easier.

Ford said students typically cannot apply until at least Aug. 1 of their senior year and typically wait until they can submit the Common Application. However, she said students can start looking at schools and planning for college as early as their sophomore year.

“Collect information, look at colleges and websites for intended areas of study and what those processes look like,” Ford said. “Because, the application processes could be different at many institutions. So, look at what those deadlines are, and when they expect you to apply. Some of the students will fill out the Common Application. Typically, an institution will have their own application as well.”

Courtney said students need to understand how serious the preparation is. College Now likes to plant those seeds early, he said, but until they miss the deadline it doesn’t really hit them just how important it is.

“We over emphasize how important it is not to miss this day, especially if it’s your dream school or university that you really want to get into,” Courtney said. “So, sometimes the biggest misstep is just taking it seriously and how important those deadlines are. Because if you missed the deadline, you missed the deadline. Now, it’s down to option B or C.”

He added “recommendation letters are also a big thing. I think sometimes students don’t understand that when a professional is engaged or has priorities, you have to be very proactive with lining up and reaching out to the appropriate people to support you.”

Haggerty said one of the biggest mistakes students make is applying to too many colleges. Sometimes people cast too wide of a net, she said, and then they end up spreading themselves too thin.

“The more colleges that you apply to, the more deadlines you have to remember and the more applications you have to manage in terms of getting the right materials to everyone,” Haggerty said. “And it becomes a question of how many balls in the air can you manage? So, for some students, I think that they stretched themselves too thin by applying to too many colleges.

“I would say the other big mistake that students may make is not completing their FAFSA. And by not completing their FAFSA, they are potentially leaving out scholarship money on the table that they could be eligible for, but never even get a chance to receive it.”

In the world we live in today, Haggerty added, the value of physically visiting a college is still one of the No. 1 things on her list.

“You have to go out and see the institution, meet the people, talk with their students and walk around the buildings,” Haggerty said. “Because ultimately, you are investing four years into this institution. You’re selecting a new home for four years and you want to make sure that place is a place that really is meeting all of your needs and is going to be a good fit for you as a community.”

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