June 4, 2012 -
When it comes to applying for college, one of the first things to do is start early. According to Dr. Scott Hampton, the Director of College Counseling at Maclay School in Tallahassee, "when you start that process early, students are focused and they start out succeeding in the 9th grade and that helps them continue to succeed." Getting into college today is a matter of supply and demand. More people want to go to college and therefore certain selection criteria are put in place. John Barnhill, the Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at Florida State University says "not everyone can be admitted as a freshman but everyone can be admitted as a transfer."
Colleges are looking for performance in the classroom, excellence in core subjects and the challenge of the classes. Taking rigorous courses like math and science gives a college applicant a better chance of getting into a competitive college. Barnhill states, “we're looking at those courses that a student takes in high school, sometimes in middle school and the types of grades they make in those courses and we want students that have been successful in those courses."
In addition to grades, standardized test scores on the SAT and ACT are a way for admission counselors to make sure an applicant is college ready. According to Barnhill, “you have to get at least above the 50 percentile of the people taking the test to be college ready and so I don't know that it's a set standard because every case is individually reviewed."
Parental involvement is critical to the success of a student, however, allowing your child to choose a college that fits their needs is essential. Hampton says "it's so important for the parent and child to go visit these colleges to see what it's like on that campus, is it a nice fit for the student." Students should narrow down their list of colleges prior to applying in the fall of their senior year. Hampton states "most students will apply to a reach school, a dream school that may just be a little bit of a reach for them but they still have a shot based on some of their qualifications and then the sure schools that they are going to get into and then a fall back school." Barnhill says "there is competition, there is selection but it is possible to graduate from any school that you would like to graduate from in our state."
Every college in the United States is now required to have a net cost calculator on their website. This will allow students and parents to calculate in advance how much you can expect to pay for college based on family income and merit based scholarship opportunities.