The Key to College


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Cropped shot of a focused young man texting on his cellphone while trying to study inside of his apartment room during the day

Emma Lawman, Reporter

In the beginning of your senior year, you will most likely be sending out college applications and then have to wait months until you hear back; there can be a lot of stress surrounding applying for college. Colleges (specifically four year schools) typically look for certain qualities such as good grades when deciding who to accept. Taking challenging courses (for example AP classes) and doing well, will also probably put you ahead of some. The idea of college can be intimidating, especially if you do not have the best grades or aren’t big on extracurricular activities. Despite that, going to college is doable.

       The first step in applying to college is to pick your schools; you should pick more than one to give you a better chance and more choices. After you have picked your schools you need to make sure that you know the deadline for when they stop taking applications. At this time you will probably have already taken the standardized tests that you need to take, or know when you can retake certain exams. It is important to know whether the schools you want to go to look at standardized test scores, because some do and some do not. When you are filling out the applications you will need to give certain information about yourself. On the applications you will need to give them your high school transcripts, information about your grades (GPA),  your activities in high school (such as extracurricular activities), etc. Most likely, you will also be writing an essay about yourself: pick one topic, tell a good and truthful story, advocate for yourself, show that you have good character, include extra information about yourself that is not on your application, and try to write well.

        Not everyone gets good grades in high school, or is involved with clubs/extracurricular activities. If you are one of these people, that does not mean you cannot get into a four-year college. Although, you might have to take some extra steps to get into one. Community colleges are cheaper than four year schools and after a while at the community college, you can transfer to a four-year school. The good thing about community college is that most of them do not transfer the grades that you get there to a university. That means that the GPA that you achieve at the four-year university will be the one that you graduate from college with. If you are paying for your college yourself you can go to college part-time, and work the rest of the time. 

        Understanding what you want your career to be is very important when you are choosing which colleges to apply to. It is important to know what you want to do to figure out whether college is even suitable for you. There are Ivy league schools, state colleges, and trade schools; you don’t have to go to an Ivy League or even four-year university to be successful in life. You can be a plumber, a hairstylist, a flight attendant, computer programmer, etc., without a college degree.  A large number of students in Ivy League Schools are from wealthy families, legacies, or both. Only four to five percent of Ivy League students are low income. Do not feel bad if you are not accepted to an Ivy League university. 

Applying to college is not something to take lightly, but you don’t have to freak yourself out too much either. Even if you do not get in the first time, you can still get into a four year university. You don’t even have to go to college at all. You need to figure out what is best for you. You should not go to college unless you plan on using whatever degree you get; do not waste your time and money on something that you do not even want.