Counselors: Fall a busy time for college prep

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

Students at Lincoln Trail Elementary School are showing their creative sides with their outfits this week as the school celebrates College GO! Week with dress-up days.

College GO! Week is an annual, statewide event by the Indiana Department of Education to encourage students of all ages to enroll in two- and four-year institutions after graduating high school. For the younger grades, school staff can find fun, creative ways to get students excited about college. For high school students, though, there’s real work to be done. Local school guidance counselors shared some tips they offer their students each fall to get them ready for college.

The seniors have the most work to do this fall for college. All the guidance counselors agreed that seniors should get their college applications in early in the fall semester. At Jasper High School, Brian Uebelhor and Sean Jochum tell their students to have the applications in by Thanksgiving.

“We want them to be done with the application part of the process so that they can dedicate their efforts on other pieces like financial aid and housing later in the year,” Uebelhor said.

Some colleges are waiving their application fees this week to recognize College Go! Week and National College Application Day, which is Friday. A list of the 17 Indiana colleges waiving their fees this week, as well as colleges that don’t charge application fees at all, can be found at www.wthr.com/article/application-fees-waived-week-national-college-application-day.

Applying early lets students see where they stand in the admissions process and gives them time to adjust, Heritage Hills High School Guidance Counselor Kathy Wilmes said. Sometimes college admissions counselors will ask students to submit another SAT score or their first semester grades to strengthen their application. That’s one of the reasons guidance counselors stress to seniors that they need to keep their grades up, continue taking rigorous courses and even retake entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

Guidance counselors also tell seniors to research colleges they might want to attend, a process that should start junior year. When researching colleges, students should pay attention to admission requirements, such as the required GPA and SAT scores, application fees and essay requirements. Throughout the research and application process, students are encouraged to meet with their guidance counselor.

“We meet individually with each senior to make sure they understand the application process and how to send transcripts, letters of recommendation and any other required documents,” Jochum said.

Seniors are also encouraged to revisit the colleges they want to attend to learn more about the institutions and to help make an informed decision about where to attend.

Junior year is when guidance counselors lead students through choosing a pool of colleges to apply to. Juniors should be researching institutions and looking for the ones that fit their career paths.

“We are strongly encouraging them to take college and tech school visits, attend the Vincennes University Jasper Campus College Fair on Oct. 1 and start looking at admission requirements for schools they are interested in,” Jochum said. “We also encourage them to take the SAT or ACT.”

Northeast Dubois Guidance Counselor Kristi Boeglin encourages her juniors to read NEXT Indiana: A Guide to Life After High School. A digital copy can be found online at issues.ibjcp.com/magazines/next/2018/. There are also online resources to help students prepare for college entrance exams. The College Board, which hosts the SAT, has practice tests at collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat.

Sophomores should be just starting their college search activities, including taking the practice SAT, or PSAT, on Oct. 10. Sophomores can also attend VUJC’s college fair and start visiting colleges if they’re ready.

“We have seen an increased number of our 10th graders taking college and tech school visits,” Jochum said. “We like this trend because if a student visits a college as a sophomore it gives them time to adjust their academic course selection over the next two years to better their chances of admission if necessary.”

Although freshmen are likely still adjusting to high school life, it’s never too early to start thinking about post-graduation plans, and there are things freshmen can do to get a head start on the process.

At Northeast Dubois, Boeglin tells freshmen to work on their career plans by exploring career paths that appeal to them and finding high school courses that will help them narrow down their choices. Freshmen are also encouraged to build a resume and update it every semester so it’s ready when they need it. The Indiana Career Explorer, found online at indiana.kuder.com/landing-page, is a good place to start.

At Heritage Hills, students will also have a College and Career Day on Oct. 10, the same day juniors and sophomores take the PSAT. Each grade level has its own college preparation activities, but the day has a single message.

“For all students and at all grade levels, we emphasize that the word “college” does not mean a four-year university,” Wilmes said. “It can also mean a two-year or community college or technical school, on-the-job training, an apprenticeship or the military.”

VUJC to host College Fair

Vincennes University Jasper Campus will co-sponsor a College Fair from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Ruxer Student Center. The public is invited to attend.

The event provides an excellent opportunity for parents and students to compare colleges. Those attending will have an opportunity to speak with representatives from approximately 40 colleges, providing information and answering questions about academic programs, application procedures, campus life, costs and financial aid.

A financial aid session will be held at 7:40 p.m. in the CTIM Building. This session will offer general information about federal and state financial aid programs.

Additional information is available by calling VUJC at 812-482-3030.




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