How to prepare for college

For many, applying for college is a stressful time. Here are some quotes from
current seniors, past seniors, and counselors to help relieve some stress.


Tips on how to narrow down potential college choices:

1. I recommend making an activity list and talking to your guidance counselor, favorite teacher, or parents about your in­terests and skills. Choose your college based off of these elements. (Keith Berman, Options for College president)
Look into special programs such as study abroad, clubs and activities, and housing options. Use these to create a “list” of your top schools. (Stephanie Balmer, Dickinson College Dean of Admissions)

2. College is a weird game. You either get in or you don’t. When you’re in the search for a college, you might get denied from your top choice but there’s good news… THAT’S OK! The reason you got denied isn’t because you’re not smart enough, it isn’t because your application was bad; it’s because maybe that’s where you’re not destined to end up. For me, I got waitlisted from my top choice and I was completely devastated. I thought it was the end of my world, but in reality I ended up at my second choice and I couldn’t be any happier! (Michael Whitty, Freshman at Marymount Manhattan College)

3. I would say the best way is to visit the physical college campus if possible. That’s when you are able to get the feeling of whether or not this is where you want to attend. Even if you aren’t sure of the college, if it’s close, there is no harm in taking the time to walk around campus and see if you feel at home. (Nicole Ramkey, Freshman at CNU)


Tips on how to find scholarships:

1. I recommend that students visit the Godwin School Counseling website. There is a link titled “Scholarships and Financial Aid” on the website that is a great resource. Many scholarships that are available to students are listed in a spreadsheet that is updated every two weeks. Additionally, the CollegeBoard website offers a resource called “Scholarship Search” where students can enter personal information to be matched with potential scholarship opportunities. (Mrs. Walton, Godwin Counselor)

2. “Scholarship” is a great word –  it is money for college that you don’t have to pay back (unlike “loans”). If you are looking for college scholarships, start with the financial aid website of colleges you would like to attend and learn about their scholarships. Some colleges automatically consider you for scholarships when you apply for admission, while others have separate scholarship applications. You also want to check out the list of scholarships advertised at Godwin. (Mrs. Gravely, Godwin Counselor)

3. College is an investment. When beginning the financial aid search, it is important to invest your time looking for scholarship opportunities. There is a great search engine on the Godwin counseling website for scholarships. (Mrs. Hunt, Godwin Counselor)

4. Scholarships sometimes differ from school to school. If you narrow down your search to a couple colleges, you can go onto their website and research certain scholarships that you are interested in applying for. (Delaney Weston, freshman at Roanoke College)


Tips from current seniors about how to choose the right high school classes:

1. I chose a challenging junior and senior year schedule to show colleges that I am up for anything. I also took certain classes to explore my passions and interests to learn more about myself. Classes are important as well as extracurriculars and it’s important to find a balance. (Briana Schwam, Godwin senior)

2. It is good to research the admissions criteria for the schools that you like. Each school weighs the class rank, GPA, and course difficulty differently. (Julia Grossman, Godwin senior)

3. To prepare for college, it definitely helps to take AP courses. More importantly, take classes that sound interesting and if you like them, take similar classes. It doesn’t matter which specific courses you take as long as they challenge you and you enjoy them. (Joe Mustachio, Godwin senior)

4. In order to prepare for college, it’s important to have an idea of where you may want to go and look up which classes offer AP credits for that college, if you’re looking at AP classes. It’s also important not to choose AP classes if you’re not interested in the topic, as it’ll make the class so much harder. If you have no idea where you want to go or what you want to do after high school, it’s still important to choose honors or AP classes that interest you and play to your strengths. Don’t be afraid to take college prep classes if those subjects aren’t your strong suit! (Jessica Haravay, Godwin senior)


Tips on how to apply for financial aid:

1. All students seeking financial assistance for college tuition should start by completing the online FAFSA form. Additionally, we have a fantastic resource through the GRASP organization. Ms. Zukowsky, who works with GRASP, is here at Godwin every Wednesday and available by appointment to discuss financial aid opportunities with students. To schedule an appointment to meet with her, stop by the school counseling office and sign up on her clipboard. (Mrs. Walton, Godwin Counselor)

2. If you want to be considered for college financial aid, you and your parents will need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Your FAFSA information will be sent to your colleges, who will use it when putting together a financial aid package for you. (Mrs. Gravely, Godwin Counselor)

3. My advice is in this process, just like you have admission safety schools, you should have a financial safety school. You should have a reach. So you should say, you know, I really want to go to this school. I know its published price is 60,000 dollars a year. I can’t afford that, but I am going to apply to financial aid and maybe it will become affordable; maybe I will be able to go there. (Myra Smith, College Board Financial Aid executive director)

4. To apply for most financial aid — including federal and state student grants, work-study, and loans — you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Although this financial aid form may seem complex, there are many free resources to help you. (College Board)


Tips on how to know when you’ve found the perfect college:

1. I would definitely say to do a lot of research beforehand online and map out what you want in a school in terms of values, size, and student body involvement opportunities. Physically walking around campus, talking to current students, and doing an overnight stay at the college if possible also help a lot in making sure that you feel at home at your school. Overall, listen to your instincts and let it happen naturally! (Grace Goodley, Freshman at CNU)

2. The perfect college to me is wherever you feel the sensation of home. For me, that was the first time I stepped foot onto Christopher Newport University’s campus. Everything just felt right and I knew this is where I needed to be. For me, it wasn’t about what division our sports teams were or how many Greek organizations there were, it was about where I felt most comfortable. (Logan Brocklehurst, Freshman at CNU)

3. You will always know when you’ve found the perfect college if you feel at home or if you can see yourself living there for the next four years. When I toured Roanoke College, I felt like I could make an easy transition from high school life at Godwin into college life at Roanoke. (Delaney Weston, Freshman at Roanoke College)

Illustrations by Alysse Stevens

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