August 1st marked the biggest application open date of the year so you might have been asking yourself “What do I do next?”
The Department of College Counseling, led by Rebekah McIntosh, pivoted this year by putting together an online virtual College Application Course, instead of our typical in-person College Workshop for rising Seniors. While that new addition kick-started the college application process for Seniors, we have put together this handy guide to navigate you through the daunting application process and to help you make it more manageable.
While you can always reach out to Rebekah McIntosh for assistance at any point during the process, this guide outlines the essential steps in the process.
It is important to note that each college will have its own set of requirements. Keep in mind that you should always tailor your application to the specific college to which you are applying. There are, however, many standard components to a college application.
First and foremost, KNOW YOUR DEADLINES. There are often different deadlines for not only applications but also for scholarships. This will be especially relevant if you are applying to multiple schools. Start with the end-goal in mind and make sure you get everything submitted on time. If you miss the deadline, that ship has sailed and the rest of the steps won’t matter.
Remember to tailor your application to the specific college and their requirements but here are a few guidelines:
COMPLETE THE APPLICATION – there are multiple application routes for college. Many colleges will have them directly on their website. Other avenues include ApplyTX (for schools in Texas), Common Application, UC Application (California schools), etc. Mrs. McIntosh recommends students use Common Application because it often ends up to be a simpler process for students. Common Application lets you complete one application and one essay while being able to send it to over 800 colleges on the site. Be aware of DEADLINES, always, and this is a great area for you to be ahead of the game —–APPLY early!
REQUEST TRANSCRIPTS – This is done through Naviance. Legacy pays for families to have access to Naviance – this software allows us to track when a transcript is sent as well as when the college receives it. This software also allows for same-day transfer of transcripts – which is handy if you have waited a little too long to submit your application. Again – be aware of DEADLINES. If you have not yet logged into Naviance, contact Mrs. McIntosh for your login information and she can help you navigate the site as well. Seniors can also refer back to the virtual College Application Course.
- This has been and still is, a big part of the college application process. However, due to COVID-19, more and more colleges are moving to be “test-optional”.
- What is “test-optional”? “Test-optional” is a policy that admissions offices adapt to waive the need for SAT/ACT scores in order to complete your college application file. They allow a student to be holistically reviewed for admission without standardized test scores.
- Is “test-optional” the best route for me? This is a personal decision based on where a student's current score is and where the student plans to apply. Mrs. McIntosh is personally guiding each Senior in advising if this is the best route or if students should send in scores. In general, Mrs. McIntosh still advises to “Test, Test and Re-Test!”.
- Beware: Students should “Test, Test, and Re-Test” because many colleges moving towards the “test-optional” route have not determined how they will extend scholarship if students do not send in test scores. In fact, some colleges are stating you must send test scores for scholarship purposes even if they are “test-optional” for admission. For these reasons, students should keep preparing for and taking these tests!
- Legacy is approved to offer the ACT twice (once in the fall & spring) on-site to eleventh and twelfth graders, during the school day. It is important for students to take advantage of this opportunity as data has shown that students score higher when they are in a familiar environment. The majority of LCA students test better and improve their score more on the ACT when they take the test onsite. Did we mention DEADLINES? They apply for registering to take tests too – but always keep them in mind for applications (both admissions & financial aid – see step 1).
ESSAY – During your junior year at Legacy you have the opportunity to compose one college essay in your English course. A few pointers to remember about the essay component of your application packet:
- Deadlines – again with the deadlines – but try to stay ahead of the curve! Get your essay(s) done with plenty of time to ensure you are effectively communicating your message to the admissions officers and leave time to….
- Edit, edit, edit!!! The goal of the essay is to share who you are as a student and how you would add value to the college community. The admission officers want to know about you beyond what they can read on an application, resume or transcript, so make it personal and compelling! To get an idea about essay topics, check out these links: Common Application Essay Topics, ApplyTexas Essay Topics.
RECOMMENDATION LETTERS – Most colleges will require a recommendation letter. Even if it is NOT required, it can add value to a student’s application file.
Guess what we will mention yet again…DEADLINES. Be sure to request your recommendation letter as far in advance as possible so that the person from whom you are requesting it can have plenty of time to complete it.
Have at least one LCA teacher write a recommendation letter – these should be requested through Naviance. A second letter from can be from a teacher, coach or person outside of Legacy that knows you well. If a letter is coming from outside of Legacy, have them email it to Mrs. McIntosh.
When you request a recommendation letter, it should be addressed generally – not to a specific college. For example, “He will be a great addition to your university.”
ENHANCE YOUR APPLICATION with the following (part two of this series – coming next week)
Use the preceding six steps as a basis to guide you through the application process. Always remember to keep DEADLINES in mind and remember to allow the schools to get a feel for who you are as a person. While it is nice to have a freshman class that adds value in terms of their grade point average, it is also important for colleges to have a well-rounded and personable student body.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.