College & Workforce Readiness

Strategies for Last Push in College-Admissions Process

By Caralee J. Adams — December 16, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s crunch time for high school seniors applying to college. While many may have had visions of completing their applications before the holidays, the reality is that many will be working on them up until New Year’s Eve.

So, how to best manage the last weeks of the process?

Tempting as it may be to skip the optional essay, experts say don’t take that short cut. If you do, “it’s a missed opportunity,” says Don Fraser, director of education and training at the National Association of College Admission Counseling in Arlington, Va. “There are few places to express yourself. If you have one, take advantage of it.” Even if the student doesn’t feel like a strong writer, the college isn’t looking as much at the writing as rounding out the picture of the applicant. Looking at a stack of applications, the college is more apt to pay attention to the student who takes the time to complete an optional essay, says Fraser.

Same goes for the optional interview. “It goes back to the notion of demonstrated interest, which is more of a trend,” says Fraser. “It’s one more way you can demonstrate interest.” Alumni interviews are not evaluative, but it is a chance for the student to find out more about the college and, perhaps, help his or her chances. “If you go in there and really shine, that will show up in person’s notes,” says Fraser. At the same time, students shouldn’t go into an interview disinterested or unprepared, which can also be passed on to the college. Many campuses are too busy to offer interviews, but when they do, it’s an opportunity to learn more, adds Fraser.

Some families are taking last-minute trips to visit campuses before turning in applications—another avenue to show your seriousness about a college.

Demonstrated interest can move the student you up the ladder in the admissions process. The percent of colleges that attribute “considerable importance” to demonstrated interest when reviewing applications grew from 7 percent in 2003 (when it was first measured) to 23 percent in 2010, according to the latest NACAC survey. It ranks above teacher recommendations, the interview, extracurricular activities, and work.

A reminder of the top factors in the admissions process in order: grades in college-prep classes, strength of curriculum, admission-test scores, grades in all courses, essay, class rank, and counselor recommendation.

This time of year, although parents may be wringing their hands at the procrastination of their high school seniors, Fraser notes that some sense of pressure is good. However, extreme amounts of pressure—seven applications to do in three days—is not. Students may feel they are doing their best work, but it’s likely not. Encourage students to pace themselves as much as they can in these last two weeks. There’s also a point at which you need to stop shopping it around for advice and just hit “submit,” adds Fraser.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Can College-Going Be Less Risky Without Being 'Free'?
Rick Hess speaks with Peter Samuelson, president of Ardeo Education Solutions, about Ardeo's approach to make paying for college less risky.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty