Always keeping in mind that the college search process is about determining which colleges are the best match, the college counseling office at Colorado Rocky Mountain School stands ready to help students and their families make their way through the maze that leads to college acceptance. Some of the steps in the process involve achieving well academically, taking standardized tests, visiting colleges, and preparing thorough and thoughtful applications that will catch the eye of college admissions officials.
While CRMS will do everything possible to facilitate each student's college choices and applications, each student holds the key to his own success. It is vitally important for each student to put serious thought into what he/she wants from a college education, what his/her passions are, and what makes them happy. Since the student cannot be in the room when an admissions committee is making a decision, the application must do the talking for the student—showing them, through words, what makes him/her a great match for that college. The best way to dazzle college admissions offices is not to appear impressive but to be impressive. A love of learning is evidenced not just by attaining strong grades, but also by showing enthusiasm for the learning process—delving deeper, thinking bigger, exploring, and questioning. Enthusiasm for an activity is evident when a student does more than the minimum, such as holding positions of leadership (not just in title, but in actions too) and taking the initiative to make improvements rather than going with the status quo.
Types of Applications
Within the first few days of the senior year, students will meet with the college counselor to discuss the progress that they have made over the summer and to begin working on other aspects of the application process. Once students have decided where they'd like to apply, they can go to the schools’ web sites and the Common Application and apply online. At this point, students should be clear about whether or not they intend to apply under an early plan. Most colleges offer some form of an early plan; the features of each are described below. The Common Application can be used to apply to over 600 colleges and universities. The advantage of this mega-application site is that students enter their basic information once and the software then automatically imports their data in all of their applications, while following the format required by each school. This can save students a lot of time. Students must also complete the "supplements" that are required by many of the schools that use the Common Application.
Most students complete what is called a "Regular Decision" application. This application often has a deadline in January and a standard date, usually around April 1, when students receive acceptance notification.
Some schools, primarily large state universities, don't admit their freshmen all at once. Instead they make admission decisions as the applications are submitted. Therefore, if students apply in October, they might hear in November. Admissions officers keep accepting and rejecting students until the freshman class is filled. Obviously, for schools that use "rolling admission," students should get their applications in early.
Early Decision (ED) is an application program under which students indicate that a specific college is their absolute first choice. The deadline for ED is usually November 1, with decisions being announced around December 15. The important thing to remember about an ED application is that if the student is accepted, they must withdraw applications to all other colleges and agree to attend the Early Decision school. CRMS counselors are ethically required to hold students to their Early Decision commitments. Students should only use the ED plan if they have an absolute first-choice school.
One of the major advantages of ED is that admissions committees feel positive about a student who has clearly designated their college as the first choice. Because of this, at most schools students who apply for ED have a better chance of admission than those who apply under the regular-decision program. Students who are not accepted will either be rejected or deferred. Those students who still have a chance of being admitted, or those who didn't get their test scores sent to the college in time but appear to be admissible, are usually deferred. Deferred students are reconsidered in the spring with the regular-decision applicants.
The major disadvantage to the ED program is that students do not have the opportunity to compare financial options and will have to commit to a school very early in their senior year.
Early Action schools allow students to apply early and receive an early notification, but they do not require students to withdraw their other applications. Applications are usually due on November 1 and notification is made in mid-December, but accepted students don't have to decide which offer to accept until the regular May 1 reply date.
Students should plan to ask two classroom teachers for recommendations, and it is always best if these letters come from teachers they have had in their junior year. Some colleges may specify that they want a recommendation from an English teacher or a math or science teacher—students need to know what is required! Students should not merely e-mail the teacher—this an important request and should be treated like one. They should speak with each teacher individually before the end of their junior year and ask if he or she will be able to support their college application with a letter. Once a teacher has agreed to write a letter, the student should let the college counseling office know who will be advocating for him or her. After that, students must take care of following up with the recommenders regarding their college addresses, deadlines, and making sure the recommendations have been e-mailed to the college counseling office well before application deadlines.
Outside letters of recommendation: A letter of recommendation from someone outside CRMS is fine as long as it adds information not provided by the school (i.e., a minister the student has known all his life, a boss from a summer job, etc.). The writer must know the student personally and be able to relate specific knowledge of his or her character or ability. A letter that speaks highly of a family or one’s parents is of little value because it doesn't let the colleges know more about the student and can, in fact, turn off the admissions officer.
Once students have narrowed their list down to 6+ colleges, they are ready to begin filling out applications. College admissions officers read all application forms very carefully; students should regard each application form as a vital component of their candidacy. The CRMS college counselor will review all essays and applications before they are submitted. The college counselor needs to be kept informed and Naviance kept up to date.
The counseling office will electronically send transcripts, the counselor recommendation, teacher recommendations, the secondary school report form, and the CRMS profile to colleges. The student is responsible for sending official standardized test scores and submitting thoroughly reviewed applications online along with the application payment.
Always keeping in mind that the college search process is about determining which colleges are the best match, the college counseling office at Colorado Rocky Mountain School stands ready to help students and their families make their way through the maze that leads to college acceptance. Some of the steps in the process involve academic achievement, standardized testing, college visits, and preparing thorough and thoughtful applications that will catch the eye of college admissions officials.