"Is this school for me?"
When asked this question, I think of myself and how I made this decision. It is hard to decide at such a young age where you will spend the next four years. What I found most beneficial was to make your own personal check list of what you want in a school. Once a list is made, it will be easier to pick a school that fits into what you want. Hopefully this little list will help you decide if you are making the right decision!
Distance From Home-It is very important to decide how far you would be willing to be away from home. Do you want to be in state or out of state? Close to your hometown or as far as possible. A good way to figure out what you want, is to think the logistics of every option: will you be coming home often, what is your mode of transportation home, do you have family nearby?
Campus Life-Depending on your hometown, this may contribute to your decision if you want to be in a rural area, city campus or more of a suburb "college" town. You may also want to look into what the campus offers you for living accommodations. What are the dorms like, can you park your car on campus, what are the dinning halls like, what is there to do on and off campus?
Money-Something to consider when looking at schools, is the tuition and room and board. If you can afford a school or will need to take out loans should play a big role in picking a college. If a school is willing to give you a scholarship, you should also consider this when making the final decision on a school.
What You Value-What exactly are you looking for in a school? Are you going for sports, a specific major or educational program, the different clubs or the all around college experience at a specific school? Figure out what your priorities are that you want at your school.
Have faith that you are picking the right school. Typically, when you visit the school, you will know that you want to go their or not based on the "vibe" you will feel. If you feel at home, you will probably want to make it your home for the next four years.
That's right folks. To be considered for many scholarships and financial aid, many college applications are due November 1st to be enrolled in the fall 2017 semester. Since I am your local overachiever, I have already applied to my colleges and have done my research to help you get through this stressful time.
Eeek! Due Dates
What is scarier than Halloween this year for high school seniors? College application due dates. What you must first do, is figure out what colleges you will be applying to. Once you have this list, decide if you are doing early decision, early action, regular decision or rolling admission. Do your research! Depending on what you choose, the deadlines for applications will change. Early decision and early action are typically due by November with acceptances and the unfortunate rejections coming in December or early January. Just remember that applying with early decision means you will be obligated to enroll while early action gives you until May for your final decision. Regular decision applications are due around January and February with a response from the college in March. Rolling admissions give many months to apply, but you will not hear back from a school for a longer period of time. Schools however will continue to accept students as long as they have open space.
Applying: Common App vs. Directly
With your list of schools and your application deadlines now in your heads, it is time to start applying. Look into your schools and see if they accept the Common App or only accept applications directly through their website. If your schools accept Common App, I HIGHLY suggest that you take advantage of it because it will make applying 100% easier I guarantee. By using Common App, you will only need to fill out the main application once and then just little bits of information specific to each college you apply to. If you do have to apply directly through a college's website, investigate what information you will need so that when you do sit down to apply you have everything readily available.
While the actual application is generally not stressful, if you need an essay, that is a whole different story. When researching schools you are interested in, look into whether you need an essay, multiple essays or what the essay is on. Common app provides three "common" essay prompts that schools accepting the college app will accept. Personally, one of the colleges I applied to did not need an essay, but the specific school that I was applying to within the college had a specific essay that I had to turn in with my application.
Letters of Recommendations
You are almost at the finish line when you realize you need letters of recommendations. Even if your school does not need letters of recommendations, depending on the competitiveness of the school, it is highly recommended that you get at least one letter. Depending on your high school this can be done through sites like naviance or can be turned in directly to your school of choice. When picking teachers, DO NOT wait until the last minute to ask because they have MANY other students asking for letters. Also keep in mind what your major will be when getting letters. If you plan on majoring in Journalism, have an english teacher, journalism teacher or school newspaper advisor write you a letter. If you plan to major in political sciences, have your government teacher write you a letter. When you ask, be polite, do it in person and have a résumé with where you want to go and major ready to give them. When a teacher completes and turns in the letter that they wrote you, send them a thank you. You can email them, bring them a gift or what I did was printed the attached file, cut the sides down and taped it around a Hershey's chocolate bar and left it on my teacher's desk with a hand written, personalized thank you on the back.
But Wait There's More: Honors College
PLEASE figure out if you are applying to your school's honors college. Often times, schools require separate applications, essays and letters of recommendations for their honors college. Do not miss the deadline because you did not do your research. Other times, schools will request/suggest you apply to their honors college after you have applied and been accepted based on your grade point average, test scores or other factors.
Please remember in this stressful time of your life to stay calm, cool and collected because this is not the end of the world. Relax, millions of other seniors are going through the same process and before you know it, you will be packing up your car to move into your dorm.
When you finally get that acceptance letter, celebrate fam you have earned it!
(All photos courtesy of Giphy)
Homecoming for those of you who do not know, is a tradition mainly found in American schools to welcome back students in the fall. While every school has different customs, many have a sporting event (football), spirit week, pep rally and dance. Homecoming should not be confused with Prom which is a dance that occurs in the spring often held only for upperclassmen or seniors, while Homecoming is in the fall and held for all students.
It is the week before the big game and dance. Most schools will participate in a "spirit week" in which everyday has a different theme for students to dress up. This helps "pump up" students for the big weekend often ending the week with a pep rally before the game that features games, cheers and different events to get students excited for the game. Some common themes that schools pick are USA day, Disney day, extreme weather day, twin day, hat day and pajama day. As a current senior, I know for a fact that it is fun and okay to let loose for the week and dress up. I extremely regret my freshman year spirit week in which I believed for whatever reason it was not "cool" to dress up. Trust me, whether you are a freshmen or a senior, it is cool to dress up during spirit week. Plus who would skip pajama day? You can literally wake up, get out of bed and go straight to school.
Football game before
Photo courtesy to Strongsville High School
Friday night football games. The themes. The chants. The rivalry between schools. All of this is elevated to the next level the night of the homecoming football game. Even if you are one who does not like or go to the football games, the homecoming game is one you will not want to miss. Get dressed up to the theme, join the packed student section in chants and hopefully see your home team win!
The perfect outfit
The perfect dress, shoes, hair and makeup does not just appear overnight. If you are planning on attending the Homecoming dance, plan ahead. Find the perfect dress that makes you feel great, shoes you will be comfortable in and hair and makeup that you know you can do yourself unless you are getting it done at a salon or by a friend. As someone who has gone to three almost four homecomings (after this year), finding the perfect dress is hard and often times expensive if you get a new dress, new pair of shoes and get you hair or makeup done professionally. To avoid this, you and your friends can trade dresses or shoes from different years. No one will be able to tell or remember from years before and your wallet or your parent's wallet will be thanking you. You can even do your own hair and makeup or have a friend do it to escape the costly salon fees.
Before the dance
Before the dance, form a group of friends to all go together. Whether everyone has dates or not, you will still have a blast going in a big group. What I have always done is gone in a big group. We meet at someones house, we all bring food to eat and take pictures either at that house, a park or another persons house. If we are being 100% serious, taking pictures is mostly for your parents. While it is nice to have pictures for yourself, your parents are the ones who want 1,000 pictures of you that they will cherish forever. While you may get annoyed when your mom or dad are chasing you with a camera, just let it happen, you will be thankful to have pictures of your homecoming in years to come.
Date vs. Dateless
Proposals, color coordinating, corsages, boutonnières, posed pictures and the sometimes awkward slow dances are just a few of the aspects of having a date to homecoming. While having a date can be a fun time, especially if you like each other, are friends or are dating, having a date is not everything. It is 100% okay to go to the dance without a date. You are not the only one. Go in a big group of friends and dance the night away. If you do have a date, then great enjoy the night with them. No matter if you have a date or not, you will surely have an amazing night as long as you allow yourself to have one. Don't pout because you do not have a date, just live in the moment and have fun the night of the dance.
Congratulations! You have survived getting your outfit perfect, a group together (possibly even a date), dinner and pictures and now you made it to the dance. Enjoy the night, dance, take pictures, have fun with friends, make memories and most importantly avoid high school drama that will always try to sneak into the dance.
Let the party continue
The dance may have ended, but the party does not have to stop. Whether you go to someone's house and eat food, go to a restaurant or hangout with your date the night does not need to end. Have fun, be safe and do not get yourself into any trouble after the dance.
Most importantly, do not stress, stay organized and stay calm because it is not the end of the world, it is just a high school dance. Have fun and be safe during your homecoming!
(All photos courtesy of Giphy)