- Feel free to ask your tour guide questions that are important to you that might not be covered in the tour such as their experiences with club or intramural sports, how easy they found it to secure internships, etc.
- Look around at the students on campus. Are they talking to one another and smiling? Each campus has a different energy, and you want to try and get a sense of that during your visit.
- Spend some time learning about the core curriculum at the college and ask questions as needed. Each college will have different expectations for students, and these can be different from one major to another within a university.
Each family will have their own idea of how to handle college tours. Some will wait to tour colleges until a student knows if they are accepted. Other families will tour in the months or years before completing applications in order to determine the college list. There is no one way to approach this process when it comes to scheduling visits. But there are some important points to consider when on a college tour. This article talks about some things to consider when on a tour. In addition, this website has some great resources when planning your tour. Below are some additional thoughts to keep in mind. Enjoy the experience!
When a student is ready for some aspects of college but not all, how does a family decide what will the next step after high school be that will most benefit the student? This is a complex question, and the answer is different for each student. Is the student getting poor grades? If so, it is important to understand why. This article talks about this issue in more depth by asking, among other things, if the low grades and/or SAT/ACT scores are a reflection of the student’s true ability. Such an important question to explore in determining next steps after high school. Check out the article for additional insights.
Another student profile is a student with good grades and SAT/ACT scores, but difficulties with independent living skills. This is an important area to explore with a student, because attending college away from home will require independent living skills, and the ability to know when help is needed and where to get the support. Talking about these skills for college success is important to ensure the student clearly understands what will be expected from him or her when living away from home. It allows for conversations about building skills and finding a college that will provide the support needed for success.
With both of these profiles, options are available for students to attend 4 year colleges, but finding the right fit is critical. Therefore, when wondering if college is the next step for a student after high school, spend time considering what supports the student would need to be successful in a college setting. That will be the best way to start to explore options. It might turn out that college needs to wait a year while the student spends time building the necessary skills for success, but at least the student has a path to follow that fits his or her needs.
It is the time of year for families to begin to complete the documents necessary to be considered for financial aid. The FASFA, which opens on October 1st, is necessary to complete for a student to be considered for financial aid. In addition, some institutions require the FASFA to be completed for consideration of merit aid. Another form, the CSS Profile, is used by about 250 schools in their consideration of aid. Here are the links you need to know about to get started:
CSS Profile cssprofile.collegeboard.org/
Before completing these documents, please take some time to read this article about common FASFA mistakes. blog.ed.gov/2017/09/12-common-fafsa-mistakes-2/
Colleges have specific deadlines as to when they need completed financial aid documentation sent to them. Please check the website for each college you are applying to in order to ensure you are able to meet their deadline requirements. Questions? Here is a link to some answers that can hopefully get you through this important but at times confusing process. fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm
For rising juniors and seniors, it is time to be mindful of the steps you need to take to apply to college. Focusing on grades and activities that interest you, preparing for the ACT/SAT, creating a college list, etc. It is a busy time for many students, but for those students with learning difference there are additional tasks to consider. Not only is it important to think about the types of support services that will meet your needs in college, but also the steps you can take to get ready for a college environment where the landscape is different than high school for students with disabilities.
This article talks about specific steps that students and their parents can do to help prepare for the transition to college for students with disabilities. There are several great points made in the article, but the first point regarding students learning about their strengths and challenges and developing an ability to self-advocate can not be emphasized enough. When I am meeting with a student who can articulate their areas of challenge and how they are able to advocate for a learning environment that meets their needs, the student is well on their way to being able to confidently transition to a college setting. To build this ability, high school students need to spend time thinking about their educational needs, ask questions, understand the supports they are receiving, etc. in order to be able to articulate their learning needs to a professor or a disability representative. By practicing this in high school, students are giving themselves the best chance of creating a successful learning environment in college.
Many high school students with learning differences have worked hard to progress through educational demands to find themselves at a point where they can consider their options for college. Students in this situation may find that there is much to consider in beginning the process of creating a college list that will offer access to an education that will meet their needs. Parents and students alike may wonder where to start on this journey. The first place I would suggest is to educate yourself about the landscape of college, and how colleges across the country offer differing types of support models for students. Here is a link to a list of articles that can help students better understand what is entailed in transitioning to college for a student with disabilities.
In addition to the article mentioned above, read through the blog entries from this site and discover helpful articles on many topics surrounding the transition to college. By being educated about this process and what to expect, it will be much easier to know what questions to ask others, how to understand steps each unique student needs to take to make the transition, and establish realistic expectations about what is possible in the coming years for each student. Enjoy the learning process and feel free to reach out with questions!
June is here, and students are excited to step away from the pressures of homework and exams. Some students might have a wide open summer of freedom, but for many rising seniors, their essay should be high on their list of tasks to complete for the summer. Waiting until senior year begins will add extra stress to students who will be working hard maintaining good grades, completing applications, taking college tours, etc. Getting the essay portion completed before senior year is a wise and recommended step to take.
It is possible to work on the college essay over the summer without creating a stressful situation. Students should create a plan to understand what the essay is looking for by exploring resources like this article. Many colleges use the Common App, and they have released their essay prompts so students can begin to brainstorm topics to write about.
One element to highlight for students is to make sure to work with someone such as a teacher, relative, mentor, etc. who can provide you with feedback on your writing. Most essays go through numerous drafts, and getting the perspective of others can be enormously helpful. Another helpful option is to review the work of other students to get a sense of some of the unique ways students have chosen to express who they are. With support and resources, students can finish the summer with completed and compelling essays!
A recent article from a Stanford Dean regarding skills that an 18-year-old should have is a great resource for students and parents. The article did a nice job of articulating what college students are expected to be able to do as they set off on their own for the first time. The month of May seems the perfect time to highlight these skills, as graduating seniors are entering their last summer at home before college. Also, rising juniors are gearing up their college lists and thinking about where they see themselves after their high school graduation. They too should be reviewing these skills to avoid focusing exclusively on academics and applications. Life skills are key to success, no matter what college you attend.
The article raises points that might seem obvious at first, but then we realize that students may not have an opportunity to practice these skills in their day to day lives. For example, “An 18 year old must be able to find his or her way around”, as well as “An 18 year old must be able to talk to strangers”. How many opportunities are students exposed to in order to practice these skills? It is something to consider for your particular situation. Read through the list and see if you want to make some changes this summer to help you be the most prepared for your college experience.
As high school students work diligently to prepare for their transition to college, it is clear that grades, activities, standardized test scores, etc. are all important factors to demonstrating to a college relevant information about the student. However, there are students who can be a match for a college academically, but not have the skills to manage the college environment. This is particularly true of students with learning differences or other challenges such as ADHD or autism. Teaching this population of students the skills of self-awareness about their challenges and self-advocacy to manage their challenges is not often found in a high school curriculum. This puts these students at a disadvantage, as they might be quite academically capable, but lack the understanding of how to bridge the differences between high school and college.
This article does a great job in offering suggestions on how students in high school can build self-advocacy skills. In order to implement these suggestions, the student will need to have a strong degree of self-awareness about their challenges, which is key to this process. The tips offered also encourage a student to learn about how college will be different from high school. These skills are so important to the success of students, and I am hoping many families will take this information to heart.
When creating a college list and planning college visits, consider a strategy to learn the critical information about each college that will impact your decision to apply. Students should work to not only have a balanced college list, but they should also ensure that all of the colleges on the list will be a good fit. Determining what makes a college a good fit for a student takes time, as factors such as location, areas of study, academic fit, support services, etc. all need to be taken into account. I have found that creating a mindset of knowing the right questions to ask about a college is important to determine if a student should apply. What might be a good fit for one student, may be a poor fit for another.
This blog from Georgia Tech admissions does a great job in delineating how to ask questions in a way that will prove most helpful to a student. I particularly like this blog as it reinforces for the student that it is their responsibility to dig deeper into each school to better understand how a particular college will serve a student. Similarly, this article talks about important questions students should keep in mind when visiting the disability office at a college being considered. The questions you ask may not only generate new questions for you in determining if a college is the right fit, but these questions may also allow the student to better understand their unique needs and the importance of ensuring their academic needs can be met at the college they choose.
The number of test optional colleges has been increasing over the years, and with that increase comes some amount of confusion. There are nuances to the test-optional focus, as some colleges are test optional for certain programs and not others, some are test optional for in-state students only, and some will consider a test optional student who has a GPA above a certain level. Still others will not consider test scores for admission, but will want the scores for students that are accepted. The message here is that students must do their research when adding test-optional colleges to their list. Students should begin by reviewing the websites of each college, and then contact the admissions office to clarify any questions regarding your particular situation. Be thoughtful in your contact with the admissions office, as you will hopefully be building a relationship with them as you demonstrate your interest in their college. Here is an article that lists some great colleges that are test optional for you to explore. In addition, the article reviews important questions for you to ask admissions representatives when you reach out to them.
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