By Murray Siegel
The school year has started, and many 12th-grade students and their families are experiencing the college admission application process.
If a student waits until the senior year of high school, he or she has waited too long. The process should begin in elementary school where the student can develop a productive work ethic. Completing all homework assignments, studying for tests and starting early on assigned projects and reports will develop behaviors that will maximize grades in high school.
Once the student arrives in ninth grade, a folder should be maintained listing all activities (both in-school and off-campus – athletics, music, academic competitions and student government are prime examples), including a description of the efforts made by the student. A similar folder should be created for each grade level in high school. Colleges are very interested in activities as well as grades. A student who has participated in time-consuming activities and who has good grades has learned to budget time and will most likely be successful in college.
Starting in 11th grade, the student should start examining possible colleges. Some questions that should be asked about each school are:
- Is the school’s location what I want? Some students may wish to be close to home while others may want to be far away.
- What size student population is desired? Will a student be happy with a campus of 1,000 students? How about 30,000 or 50,000?
- Is there an academic program that covers the student’s career interests?
- If the student should change his or her mind about the major, are there diverse majors available?
- How likely is the student to receive sufficient financial aid?
There is help available, starting with the high school counselor’s office. Ultimately, the student should visit the campus of each school that appears to be a good choice. Ideally, visit the campus on Friday and attend classes. Stay over to Saturday to see what type of activities exist for those residing on campus.
It is wise to invest time in seeking financial aid. There are all types of scholarships. Students who have a parent who served on a U.S. Navy submarine are eligible for a special scholarship, as are those whose parents or grandparents worked in the shoe industry. Many church-based colleges offer financial aid to students who are active members. An excellent scholarship program is the ROTC Scholarship, which pays academic costs and provides a monthly stipend to help with room and board.
Financial-aid research is an important part of early preparations for college.
Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He lives in Maricopa.
This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.