What NOT to do when Applying to College | Top 10 List for Fall

Applying to College FallIt's fall. Even though the leaves haven't yet begun to turn colors, it feels like fall. The air in New England has taken a turn toward crisp, fall sports teams have played their first competitive matches, football is on TV, the apples are ripe, and students are settled back into their academic year routines.

For high school seniors, that means that they are well into the fall college application rhythm (or they should be by now). Ideally, at least one round of campus visits are behind them, they've narrowed their lists to a realistic number of colleges to which they will apply, essays are being polished, and their teachers are contemplating what to write in recommendations.

For juniors, the beginning of the school year means the anticipation. As they watch their senior friends stress about "getting it all done" and "getting in," they wait on pins and needles for their spring guidance counselor meetings to officially kick off their own descent into the frenzied process that has come to define applying to college. My job as an educational consultant is to help students - and their families - keep in check at least some of the anxiety, stress and craziness.

And so to that end, I offer juniors - and late-blooming seniors - my top 10 list of things NOT to do when applying to college.

10. Avoid talking to your parents about how you and they will fund your college education
9. Skip campus visits all together or "wait to see where you get in" before visiting colleges
8. Get senioritis and take an easy course load
7. Wait until the last minute to ask teachers to write recommendations for you
6. Post pictures of you drunk or other embarrassing content on social networking web sites
5. Let your parents do the research and create the list of colleges to which you will apply
4. Apply to colleges based on where your friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. are applying
3. Don't explain a discrepancy in your academic record when a good explanation exists (for example, an illness or a death in the family)
2. Try to "hide" something (for example, suspension or other disciplinary actions)
1. Have someone else write your essay(s)

Stay tuned for my follow-up, in which I will feature a top 10 list for parents of those applying to college...

Tags: parenting, communication, college, financial aid process, financing options, admissions process, applying to college, college admission essay

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