Getting into College - The Foolproof Guide / by Justin Murphy

Getting into college is very important in today's society; in the past you could sneak by with only a high school diploma and pickup a blue collar job downtown, but now it's 2011. In today's world the competition for jobs is fierce and having a diploma from a institution of higher education is key to get companies to even look at you.

In this guide to getting into college i'll give you the basics and walk you through the process so that your hard work in High School pays off.

 Before we get started, here are some helpful tips for the High Schooler - 

  1. Your High School grades do matter (a lot), if you have a GPA of under 2 you will likely be going to a Community College.
  2. Extra Curriculars are key, get active in your school and community.
  3. Take the ACT or SAT at least twice, and send all your scores to the colleges you're applying for. Statistically you'll do much better the second time and if you do worse, colleges won't care. 
  4. Enjoy High School, it ends fast. (Not related but I had to say it)

 

Step 1 - Do some searching.

Time Frame - (Junior -> Summer Before Senior Year)

I can't tell you what college you should attend but I can tell you a little bit about the different types of colleges. 

Community College - A place for higher education with low entry standards and no competition, at a low cost. While this may be the least flattering place to show off to your friends, it's a cheap education which your wallet will thank you for. Also note that you can take your general education classes here and transfer to a larger school to complete your bachelors. If you screwed up during High School here is your chance to redeem yourself. Attend a CC for 2 years, establish a good GPA and transfer up! 

Public College - This is your average university, anyone can apply! These Universities also have a lot of competition and getting in isn't always easy. If you live in Michigan, your ACT score is key. If you live anywhere else an SAT is going to say a lot about your education. These schools analyze your test scores and GPA along with the extra curriculars you list on your application. An Essay is often required aswell, so take your time and make it a good one. 

Private College - These types of colleges are considered to be a bit more prestigious, but your wallet will also cower in fear at the price of one. The application process is the same as a Public University but they are very selective and few get in.  

Instate vs Out of State 

This a commonly asked question by many, including myself. When I was first applying to colleges I really wanted to go to California, it's a beautiful state with some fantastic colleges. But, after looking at out of state tuition prices, I was in shock. I then narrowed my search back to the mitten (Michigan) and saw all the fantastic computer engineering schools in state. The icing on the cake? They all were nearly half the price of out of state tuition before financial aid and scholarships.

 

Step 2 - Contemplate what you want to learn.  

Time Frame - (Junior Year -> End of Sophomore Year in College)

You do not have to know exactly what you want to do when you go to college. Actually, it is very common for students to change majors while attending college, we're young, and our interests change rapidly. I personally have thought about many different degrees I could change into, bio mechanical, computer engineering, etc. but I always end up crawling back to Computer Science.

 

Step 3 - Apply, apply, apply. (Do it online)

Time Frame: (Early Senior Year -> End of 1st Semester Senior Year)

I can not say this enough, apply early and apply to many. Choices are important, if you haven't made any college visits yet, apply to schools that interest you and worry about the tours after your application is in. Even if you're not entirely sure you want to go there, you'll be kicking yourself if you love the campus and miss the deadline. Many colleges offer free (online) applications and 25 minutes of your time could get you into a very good college.

The College Application Itself

When first applying for college I thought it was going to be incredibly complicated, it's not. 

What do they ask you? 

  • Basic Personal Information
  • What year you're applying for
  • What you're interested in studying
  • Are you a criminal?
  • Your High School Transcript (Usually sent directly from your High School)
  • Test Scores (ACT, SAT)

 normally at the end there will also be an Essay for you to write.

The whole process can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes per college. After the first application you'll be a pro at filling them out. Double check your info before you click "submit" (Most colleges allow you to save your appliction online. Give your eyes a break, get a glass of water and then go through it again). 

When you're 100% sure everything is correct (no lying, it's illegal), click that magic button! :)

 

Step 4 - The Wait. 

After you've applied to your colleges (Remember you applied to multiple, right?), all that's left to do is wait! You'll either get a response in the mail (most popular), an email, or a phone call. 

 

Step 5 - Rejoice! 

You've just got into college, congratulations! You are now ready to take the next big step in your life. Go get learned!