Helping You Navigate Through the Process

The Process

The college process can be many things: exciting, overwhelming, stressful, but it can also be educational. While searching for colleges and completing applications, students have the opportunity to practice life skills. These skills will not only help students manage the college application process, but they will also open doors for their future. College Mindset strives to provide guidance that will serve students through the college application process and beyond.

Steps in the College Application Process:

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learn about the college application process

1. Learn Who You Are

The discoveries students can make through the college search can be astounding. Throughout the journey, students build self-knowledge to understand their personality, their goals, and how they process information. They explore the resources and opportunities they need in order to be successful. Many students begin their college search set on one idea, but end up exploring colleges they never thought they would consider, all because they took the time to really think about who they are and what they want to achieve.

2. Research Options

Another life skill that can be obtained through this process is the ability to research. With the college search process, many students are overwhelmed with the amount of information available. What is accurate? How do I interpret the messages I receive? What questions should I ask? College Mindset will share resources and guidance on navigating through the research process.

Students also need to challenge their own assumptions about colleges and make sure they are exploring all viable options. Collecting information, asking questions, and planning strategic college visits not only helps students learn about a specific college, it also helps them narrow down and identify what they are looking for in their college experience. Students will also learn how to research the academic areas they are interested in and may want to consider as potential majors and career options.

planning for college

3. Set Goals and Plan

One of the most important aspects of the college process is setting goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? While many students are not able to answer these questions, they still need to learn how to set goals and how to create a plan in order to reach those goals. For the college application process, students also need to create academic, standardized testing, extracurricular, and application plans. These plans will guide them through their junior and senior years of high school and help them meet the goal of attending college.

  • An academic plan will help you create a balanced list of courses to complete in high school. When choosing courses, you need to think about challenging yourself, in addition to considering what courses will highlight your talents and interests.
  • A standardized testing plan will help you determine what you need to do in order to prepare for the ACT and/or SAT.
  • An extracurricular plan will show colleges your interests outside of the classroom. This is also where your have an opportunity to stand out as an applicant.
  • An application plan will help you prioritize deadlines and make a large task more manageable.

All of the tasks associated with the college application process need to be completed, along with a student’s academic and extracurricular obligations, leaving the student with a lot to handle. Perfecting time management, goal setting, and planning skills not only helps students through the college application process but also teaches them skills they will use in college and beyond.

college applications

4. Network

The college application process is filled with opportunities for students to learn how to create a professional presence, and improve their communication and networking skills. Students can practice these skills daily through their interactions with teachers and guidance counselor. Since these are the individuals who will be writing their letters of recommendation, every interaction is important. Networking and communication skills will also help students build a professional presence with a college. What do I say at a college fair? How do I put together a resume? What do I write in an email? How do I prepare for an interview? Being able to demonstrate interest in a college and network with college administrators is a skill that students will use in college and throughout their professional careers.

apply to college

5. Apply

After a final list is selected, students need to explore how they want to present themselves to colleges through their applications. What do I want (and need) to say in my essay? What additional opportunities do I have to show colleges who I am beyond transcripts and test scores? Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation? Every part of the college application is important. Students need to learn to look at all of the parts separately, but also consider how they will fit together and present a complete picture to colleges.

decide on a college

6. Decide

Once students have submitted their applications and received their decisions, they need to make their final college choice. For some students, this is the most difficult part of the college application process. They will learn how to weigh their options, identify pros and cons, and how seek input from trusted advisors.   In the end, they will know how to pull together all of the information obtained to make a final decision. College Mindset will be there with the student during every step of the process, helping him or her make a well-informed and thoroughly researched decision.

going to college

7. Transition

Transitioning to college is the often the forgotten step in the college process. Students will spend their entire lives transitioning from one change to the next, so it is important that they learn the skills and resources they need in order to be successful in their next life phase as a college student.