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Part II – The DOs of Applying to College.

Posted by on Friday, March 5, 2010 in General Information.

This is part II of a three part article.  Check out part I (Don’ts of Applying).  I spoke to the junior students and parents regarding the Do’s and Don’ts of the College Search Process. For any of you juniors (or sophomores) this will hopefully be a helpful list of what to do and what not to do on your journey over the next 14 months.  Due to the length the article has been split into three parts, without further ado here is “Part II – Dos of Applying to College.”


  • Do Cast a WIDE net. This is a search process and as I said before you should look at all types of colleges: big ones, small ones, religious ones,  etc.  Also apply to different schools with varying degrees of admit rates.  At the end of the day you want to have a couple of great places to choose from.  If you think that you want a tiny liberal arts school then it can be very beneifical to visit a huge state school as well.   See what the other side looks like, at the very least you will know exactly why you want ____ (small/big/medium etc) kind of school.   Identifying what you don’t want can be just as helpful as finding what you want.
  • Do Identify your FIT. Ask yourself the serious questions about what it is that you want from your college experience.    Is there a particular major or kind of school, size of school, location (close to home or far away), great college town, big city, urban, big time athletics, research, a bit of everything, diverse, etc?  After you have identified your “fit” begin to research schools that are close to the crieria and then… Visit the schools!
  • Do Make the most of your Visits.  Contact the office of admission or check their website, find out what each school offers for prospective students in regards to visiting campus.  Do the official visit or visit a class or stay overnight (Vanderbilt offers ‘Dore for a Day which is a half day host program).  Ask all sorts of questions especially to your tour guide or host.  Find out what it is really like to be at ______ University.  Try the cafeteria, local coffee shops, check out a sporting event etc.  Really throw yourself into the shoes of a student at _____ College and then finally talk it over with friends, parents or counselors and analyze.
  • Do Have fun.  Over the next year you will take trips and visit schools and maybe even stay overnight with some college students.  What doesn’t sound fun about that?  Enjoy it, whether you are soaking up the college town or going to a basketball/football game or just enjoying the company of your siblings or parents on these trips, have fun!
  • Do Use your Parents. That’s right, ask your parents what they think about the schools you are visiting.  If you are anything like me then your dad is probably “that dad” who asks 100 questions.  While that may be embarrassing your parents care about you and guess what they know the most about you, so use them as a resource during this process.  At the very least I’ve found my ‘rents make for excellent sounding boards, and besides they really want to be apart of this process.  Sooner you realize this the more all of you will enjoy this and the less stressful this process will be.
  • Do Use your Counselor. If you are lucky enough to have a great college counselor at your HS then use them.  He/she is a GREAT resource for you during this time so listen to what they have to say, like your parents they really do want what is best for you – which is for you to find that perfect school for you.
  • Do Make contact in the Office of Admissions. Don’t go overboard as I said before, but it is completely appropriate and mutually beneficial to introduce yourself in a brief email to your admissions counselor.  Just make sure that you don’t cut and paste the email that you send to us with the wrong school in the title or body of the email, as I have seen a few times.
  • Do Your homework. Research each college’s admissions process as we are all different in that respect (and several others).  For instance, Vanderbilt doesn’t require an interview process it is only optional but some have a formal interview which is a big part of their process.   Each school is going to care more or less about your testing, curriculum, alumni status, essay, ____ (fill in the blank) and each school might have different dates and deadlines so do your homework.

Stay tuned for Part III: Tips for Applying to College coming on Monday, March 8th.

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