October is a month of transition for North Carolina. The temperature is cooler, but not cold, and Leesville’s football team is just over the halfway point of their season. For many high school seniors, October takes on one additional characteristic: it’s time for them to apply for college.
The college application process has undergone several transformations and revisions throughout the years. Not long ago, our parents and grandparents applied to a few local colleges via individual applications written on paper.
Today, most seniors at Leesville will complete theirs through the Common Application, a single online form that can be submitted to most colleges in North Carolina and across the country. They then choose which colleges they would like to attend based on their interests and comparable majors that the university offers.
Some other popular college options for Leesville students, such as Clemson University or UNC Charlotte, require applications of their own to complete. “I applied to Clemson University and Virginia Tech for engineering… each school has their own separate application,” said Duncan McRae, senior. While this individual application process can be arduous, it allows schools to issue unique essay prompts and questions to its applicants.
The number of colleges one may apply to vary widely throughout our class. Some, certain of their athletic or academic future at a particular school, may apply to just one.
Other students opt to apply to as many colleges as their parents can pay for. “I’m applying to ECU on the Common App and Masters University near LA. I also might apply to Western Carolina and Coastal Carolina,” said Evan Provost, senior. While ECU is located close to home, Master’s is a legacy school attended by his siblings.
My list of schools, though narrowed down recently, consists of fifteen colleges from New York to Los Angeles. The expenses to apply to all these schools can rack up quite a bit without application fee waivers or financial aid.
Test scores and GPA tend to have the biggest impact during the application review process. Every kid wants to go to an Ivy League school like Harvard when they’re little, but doing so requires exceptional coursework and extracurricular involvement to achieve. Generally, students should select a “safety” school to apply to, a college that would almost certainly accept you based on these key factors. Another option is to select a “reach” school, which would be hard, but not impossible, to be admitted to based on the same factors. Generally, you should apply to schools whose average scores fall within the range of your own.
The size and demographics of a student body also dictate the choices seniors may make when filling out their applications. Certain schools, such as Meredith College, have single-sex student bodies. Liberal Arts colleges such as Davidson will tend to have much smaller class sizes than that of large, public universities such as NC State, both of which can be a factor depending on the preferred learning environment applicants wish to be in.
The size of a school is also a general indicator of its division status in sports, with the most populated schools playing at the elite “D1” level. This can be a boon to many college bound students looking to unwind after classes.
With all of the buzz and stress going around at application time, it’s reassuring to know that current seniors and future seniors have a bright future beyond that of Leesville Road High School. Whether enrolling in college, taking a gap year to explore educational options and travel, or entering into the workforce, thinking about the next step after high school is encouraging and exciting.