The Student News Site of San Dimas High School

Saint Scroll

The Student News Site of San Dimas High School

Saint Scroll

The Student News Site of San Dimas High School

Saint Scroll

Tips and Tricks to Navigate College Season

Some steps to follow when applying to college

With college season finally coming to an end, San Dimas High School seniors are finally at an ease. But this raises questions for next year’s incoming seniors and those lower class men who may be planning their college route and where to even start. Don’t worry, the Saint Scroll is providing some tips and tricks on how to get through the seemingly endless application process. 

First of all, college season in general might be rough. But it is only as rough as you make it. Prioritize the importance of this season of your life. Make sure to apply to schools you want to genuinely go to and not the ones you are told to go to. Choosing your next 2 or 4 years is your choice (with of course some important factors).

  1. Plan out the colleges you want to attend

Everyone has their set dream college and it’s seemingly their only option. Remember to be open to different colleges. Don’t forget about the factors of price, location, size, and if the school is good for the major you are applying for. Have a set list of about 10-15 colleges in mind including targets, safeties, and reaches. 

If you weren’t sure what those mean, target schools are the schools you hope that you can get into and you feel applicable to what the school is looking for, safeties are the schools that you know you will definitely get into, and reach schools are the ones you are dreaming to get into even though it seems impossible. Also definitely note in a calendar to write down the deadlines so you don’t miss them!  

Senior Natalia Lopez has been planning her college career since freshman year. She recently just got in and committed to Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Congratulations to her! At first she was extremely set on one school but as time went on, things changed. She decided her list through good quality programs, social life, and post-grad opportunities; those were all really big factors for her. “I knew I would only be able to attend an institution that I would feel motivated to succeed at because there was no point in going to a good school if I would be miserable throughout,” Lopez explains. 

2. Make sure to fill out the general information section out as soon as possible

Though the questions may seem easy, they are extremely long and repetitive. Whether applying on the Common App or UC Apps, the general personal questions may take a while. They are long and can be confusing, so make sure to get them out of the way. Set aside some time, possibly on a weekend, to answer just those personal general questions. Do not wait till last minute and rush to do them, it will only cause more stress.

3. Look at the writing prompts for the specific colleges on the list and write out ideas for each topic

Do not write at the last minute. Although some people say they work better under pressure, don’t apply this towards college applications. Write out random ideas then and there and when the time comes, give yourself about a month of space to write and revise. Revise revise revise. But if you ask other people to help revise, don’t lose your voice within other people’s opinions and revisions. Make sure you are telling your very own story.

Lopez explains that when writing her essays she “I figured that they would determine if I had that themselves, so it was my job to show who I was after that. I showed my voice by reflecting on my ideals, experiences, and even some sarcasm”. She wanted to make sure that she was able to tell her story while applying herself to the topic(s) of the prompts. Lopez advises to avoid “trauma dumping”, that it is the opposite of what you should do. Write about experiences that shaped you and made you into the person you are today. “The problem comes when you express self-pity; focus on who you are and how you’ve grown into that person through self-growth. Also, don’t be afraid to show your personality. You’re not a robot, you’re a person; show schools how great you are,” Lopez states. 

4. Choose your next 4 years!

All in all it comes down to which college you get into. There are always options to transfer out if you are unhappy with the decisions. Everything will work out. “A lot of schools will catch your attention, but talk to the students that go/went there. Do you want to be like them? Do you get along with them? Will you be happy? There are a lot of different factors, too. Financial aid, internship/research opportunities, alumni network, prof-student ratio, dining food, location, etc,” Lopez explains. College season is very hard when it comes to thinking about the nitty gritty things such as how much financial aid you are getting or different opportunities the schools offer. Lopez advises to think about where you will be in 10 years and how your school will reflect that.

5.  Apply for scholarships

Be very attentive to scholarships and their deadlines because truthfully, free money is free money. As Lopez just won the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship + Internship, she wants to highlight that connections are extremely important. She was able to achieve this scholarship because of a friend she had made at Harvard. “Talk to people; they’re your biggest asset. As for actual websites, people share their accomplishments on LinkedIn, so you’d be able to see what opportunities exist and maybe model them,” she states. Websites such as ScholarshipAmerica list out numerous scholarships. Apply, apply, apply. “Keep in mind: scholarships go directly to your college, so no, you will not pocket any of it. That’s called fraud… unless they explicitly want you to use it for academic purposes,” Lopez states. 

6. Make some new friends and find roommate(s)

This is one of the last things to think about when it comes to college season. Go to the class of 2028 pages of your college. Everyone is looking for friends and roommates so don’t be hesitant to reach out. They are all on the page for the same reason. Something simple as sending a DM saying “Hi! I’m ___ and I saw that you are going to (college). I thought we had similar interests so I thought I’d reach out!”. 

As college season comes to an end, each senior can now take a breather as they feel like heavy weight is off their shoulders, slowly by slowly. “ If you do choose to be hyper-ambitious, take care of yourself. At the end of the day, Yale grads are working at McDonald’s. It’s the person that makes themselves, not the college,” Lopez states. Don’t let fear overwhelm you or affect this process. No matter if it is a community college, trade school, UC, or private school, you will end up where you need to be. To all the incoming seniors, good luck next year! To all the graduating seniors who are overcoming this season of life, congratulations. 

– The Saint Scroll

More to Discover