College. Everyone knows about it and, while it is not everyone’s path, many students decide to take their education to the next level after high school. However, a lot of students have no clue what they should be doing, when they should do it, or how to do it. Counselors visit classrooms of seniors to educate them on what they should be doing. But this is almost too late.
Colleges require admissions to be submitted by deadlines as early as January, which would mean starting to prepare for college or university at the start of senior year would be too late. While most people know about college admission essays and the SAT/ACT tests, many more are oblivious to the many other tasks associated with college such as filing a personal FAFSA, requesting transcripts, teacher recommendations, and looking day and night for any and every scholarship that will make tuition a little less of a financial burden.
Mrs. Leontina Liebe is a counselor at Camas High School. She has been working at Camas High School for many years and knows practically everything about the college process. Mrs. Liebe and all of the other counselors at CHS visit senior classrooms every Friday to educate students on how to prepare for higher education. But while those lessons are very helpful, to start working towards applying for colleges at the beginning of senior year is far too late.
“Freshman through junior year is a prime time to gather information about schools,” she says. She recommends that students start as early as possible. As she put it, “we do a lot of research on what kinds of phones we want to buy, what kinds of cars, appliances. Why are we not doing the same kind of research on colleges?” While researching for colleges, look at specifics such as what programs they offer, how big their campus is, and there academic averages. “Don’t just go for the name brand,” says Mrs. Liebe.
Sometime during your freshman, sophomore, or junior years, schedule visits for colleges. Mrs. Liebe says, “nothing beats an actual visit.” Students can get a feel for the environment and size of the campus. College takes up four years of a student’s life, so the institution should mirror what the student wants.
All in all, be smart when applying for college. Visit and research various colleges around the area. Student loans are a major financial hardship for many people, so students should spend their time studying in a place where they feel at home.