Tomorrow, we’ll be hosting incoming freshmen of the Class of 2018 in the second of three “Get On Board” days, and as the college selection process wraps up for these students, we wanted to share the second half of our ten tips to conquer the college application process. Admissions office staff at Park University in Parkville, Mo., high school students, Park students and a parent recently weighed in on what they’ve learned from their journey into the Land of the Most Amazing College Application Process Ever. (spoiler alert: it’s STILL not scary):
6. Take the ACT… Again
James Boyer is a home-schooled senior in Kansas City, Mo. His one piece of advice for applicants is to focus on the ACT, which, like most students, he ended up taking more than once. Most scholarships are highly competitive, high-stakes endeavors where ACT scores count. In the end, James was awarded a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Park. “I started early and did a lot of work,” he said.
7. Don’t Fear the Application
Andrew Baxley, a Park admissions counselor, says that Park has simplified its application process. “We try to make the process as unintimidating and easy for students as possible. There’s a lot of fear about it but it’s really straight forward.”
In addition to tours throughout the year, Park sponsors several “Pirate Preview” days that connect faculty representatives from every department with prospective students. (For more information – check out www.park.edu/visit)
James Boyer said Pirate Preview gave him the best insight into what Park was really like. “I visited with a business faculty member and I could tell he really cared about students. I got a sense of the whole atmosphere at Park. Applicants should do more than just browse a college’s website.”
Sadie Mohr, a fifth-year Park senior from Hale, Mo., recalls her campus visit. “It was right after a heavy snow and the campus was absolutely breathtaking. I was interested already in Park but the campus tour intensified my interest.”
9. Honor Your Instincts
This brings up a more subjective tip: honor your gut feelings when it comes to making a decision. Anna Menninger was accepted by other institutions but visited Park and connected immediately. “I’m very nature oriented and I loved all the trees. I had this feeling that this is where I was supposed to go.” Menninger urged applicants to ask themselves, “Do I feel comfortable here?”
10. For Parents: Network and Do Timelines
Joanna Boyer is a parent who has benefited from going through the college application process twice, first with her oldest son, now a sophomore at Park, and most recently with James. She felt she was at a disadvantage with the first go-round having gone to college under a different system in Canada. Her solution was not unlike that recommended for students: she gathered information.
“I got in touch with people in my community and interviewed them,” she said. “My advice? Find a few parents who have been successful, network and do as much research as you can.”
This brings us back to our first tip. Parents, start early. Develop a timeline when your child’s in the ninth grade. “Have a sense of the system and get a head start on gathering materials,” Joanna Boyer said. “Having the big picture early on really helps.”
Parents are vital partners in the whole college application journey, she feels. “My husband and I did everything we were invited to. I really appreciated that about Park, that they are focused on the family and included everyone in the process.”