With college application deadlines approaching, many seniors have made their applications a focus of their life. Thankfully, Paly offers a wide array of resources to assist students, including the new office for the College & Career Center, experienced college advisers and Naviance, an informative online system. However, the complexity of the process often overwhelms students, making them unable to utilize the resources effectively. The solution lies in the instructions during advisory.
Paly aims to provide an encouraging environment which prepares students to earn good grades, receive satisfactory scores on standardized tests and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. However, when it comes to reporting these accomplishments to colleges in the form of a coherent application, students tend to struggle completing this convoluted process.
Some colleges require all standardized test scores, while others only require a student’s highest one; some colleges ask students to self-report grades and courses, while others ask for official transcripts; some colleges will accept proof that the tests were taken before the deadline, while others require the scores to be delivered to the office, which usually takes two to four extra weeks after the test. Overlooking these details can have serious consequences, such as delaying the review of a college application, and, more often than not, the deadlines are not communicated well.
Of course, it should be a student’s responsibility to research the colleges they are applying to and their requirements, but for the students who are the first in their family to apply to college or lack a guardian who completely understands the application process, it is easy to make careless mistakes. Due to this, Paly should help students address these problems so they don’t miss important deadlines.
On the day the college cover sheet for Early Decision and Early Action schools was due, I met with college adviser Sandra Cernobori in the CCC and learned that in addition to the cover sheet, students need to indicate their Early Decision and Early Action schools on the Common App website and invite their teacher advisers and teachers as recommenders by that date in order for them to complete the letters of recommendation on time. Information regarding college deadlines should be better communicated to students during advisory—it should not just be up to the college advisers.
Changing the way advisories are organized could be an effective solution to the issue. During the three advisories that were dedicated to the college application process, teacher advisers had a presentation describing the process and the Common App. However, because most students had not begun filling out the application at the time, the instructions did not make sense. When they refer back to Schoology later, it can be difficult to find the information needed from a large stack of documents.
Instead of talking at students with a presentation, teacher advisers should dedicate one advisory period to having students create an account on the Common Application and giving instructions to the basic operations, such as reporting scores, courses and grades and inviting teachers. This would not only help students complete their tasks more effectively, but it would also reduce student stress by telling them exactly what they need to do for the college admissions process.
Additionally, teacher advisers should tell the students what they need to know about the requirements of colleges they are interested in. One of the main reasons why the counseling resources and online information systems are not utilized effectively is that students do not know what questions to ask.
Teacher advisers should also inform students about common misconceptions, such as the aforementioned score sending, and encourage them to find out what the case is for their own colleges through research or asking for help.
In this busy season for both students and teachers, a more clear introduction to the college application process during advisories will make use of the rich resources at Paly to help students who would like to attend a four year college.