Jill Haley: College applications are open | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: College applications are open

Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

The 2015-2016 college application season has officially started. For many students, this means the end of lazy summer days as they prepare to apply to college.

Beginning Aug. 1, students can now begin working on both the University of California’s (UC) application and the Common Application (CA).

The Common Application is used by students to apply to more than 500 colleges and universities, and is a time saver if applying to more than one college.

Most private colleges and universities in the country, as well as some public universities, use the Common Application.

For seniors who want to get a head start on applications before school is in full swing, here are a few things that you need to do:

— Create an application account for the UC and CA, with a user name and password. You might want to set up an email account that is used exclusively for college. My recommendation is to pick one password and use it for all your college accounts. Forgetting passwords can create undue hassle.

— Make sure you have taken the ACT or SAT tests prior to November of your senior year. If you are applying early admissions, October would be best.

— Both the UC and the CA require that you write a personal essay as part of the application. Starting early is important. This is one part of the application that you want to take your time on. Have someone proofread it for you.

— Organizing deadlines is essential. Many colleges have changed their application deadlines this year. The best application will not be read if it is submitted after the deadline.

— Although the UC does not require letters of recommendation, the Common Application does. Asking teachers early is mandatory and giving them “talking points” in the form of an academic resume will result in a more informative and personal letter.

While students are worried about applying to college, parents are concerned about paying for it. Parents should know that they will need to file the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for federal and state grants and loans.

This application should be filed after Jan. 1, 2016 and before March 2, 2016.

Parents can also help in the college selection process. Organizing college visits is a great way to be involved.

The fall break is an ideal time to visit, as college is in session and students can get the true feel of the campus.

Nevada Union High School will be holding their annual College Night at 6 p.m. Oct. 7. This night will include sessions with college representatives as well as workshops on college applications, essays, testing and financial aid.

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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