Jill Haley: Ten tips to completing college applications | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: Ten tips to completing college applications

Jill Haley
Columnist

Photo for The Union John Hart

We are in the midst of the college application season. Let's talk about a few tips that I have picked up along the way to help make the best decisions when it comes to college applications.

Ten tips

Students should develop a spread sheet listing all the due dates and requirements for each college they are applying to.

It is easy to get overwhelmed when applying to multiple colleges and a tracking system can really help.

Include such things as requirements for essays, letters of recommendation and interviews.

Students need to check their transcripts to make sure all classes and grades are accurate.

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This is the only official record of their academic accomplishments that the colleges will see and it needs to be flawless.

Even though students will self-report their SAT and ACT scores on their applications, they still need to send official copies through the testing agency to the colleges they apply to.

Just putting the scores on the application is not enough.

When reporting extra-curricular activities concentrate on those that you have invested the most time in.

Colleges value a dedication and time commitment to activities much more than a laundry list of activities with just a few hours invested.

Highlight your character in the personal essays. Let's face it, many college applicants have similar test scores and GPA.

Where you can really shine is in the essay. Colleges like to admit students who will contribute to their campus and are good people.

Before choosing the colleges you will apply to, make sure you can afford them. How do you go about doing this? Net price calculators.

Each college website is required to post a calculator that will give an estimate of what you will have to pay for one year of college on their campus.

This estimate is based on financial information but also on a student's GPA and test scores.

Look beyond California for the best chance of getting into impacted majors. Most of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors are impacted at the California campuses.

Looking at colleges in other states such as Nevada, Oregon and Washington will increase your chances of getting into these majors at colleges.

Check out the website College Data to help you determine your chances of getting into a particular college. They include information on what each college looks for in its admissions decisions.

File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many families fail to file this application for financial aid assuming they don't qualify.

It might surprise them to know that some merit based aid, work study and student loans require that students file this form.

Make sure you file the correct FAFSA.

For current high school seniors that would be the 2018 FAFSA, or the year they will attend college for the first time.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.

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