During October 29 and 30, Milford High School (MHS) will be hosting College Application Week activities as students will receive guidance and support for filling out college applications. Mike Sharp, MHS Guidance Counselor, along with other counselors are making sure that students not only have help with the process of applying to schools but also assistance when families are choosing the next step in their students’ educational career.
Sharp states that it is important for families to always look at the best fit for their son or daughter along with being fiscally responsible. He directs students to explore a college and visit the campus to get a feel for the school and make sure that they feel as though they are part of the college.
“I’ve had students go away to a school that never once took a visit to the school and they come home right away wasting a semester or year of their time,” stated Sharp. “The advice I give them is that when they step on a campus they will know if it’s for them or not. No matter how much research one does on a school you really never know until you step on to the campus if it’s a good fit.”
Making sure that the institution has the major that each student is specifically seeking is an important piece of information not to be overlook as some students get wrapped up into a school because of the extracurricular activities that are offered. Sharp and the MHS guidance staff stress that families make sure they have a plan to graduate with the major they want and not to rely on an admissions officer making promises of how they will graduate without a direct path. Just as important as finding a good fit and securing educational needs, finances should play a major role when deciding what college to attend.
“[Families] should always get the most bang for their buck so to say. If you want a degree that is available at most colleges is it worth it to go to an expensive school when they could get the same training at a school for a fraction of the price ?,” said Sharp. “That’s a decision families have to make and will affect them for years.”
According to Sharp, colleges are looking at GPA, Class Rank and SAT/ACT scores but on top of all those items they are looking at the whole student. They want to see what each student brings to the table as a whole. Students may not think so, but Sharp states that colleges read every application essay and they look for a story about why they should take that individual instead of the next person.
“Always make sure you sell yourself, it’s hard to understand that at such a young age because we are not always built to praise ourselves but it needs to be done,” said Sharp. “As a counselor I know how great a student is but if they do not report everything to a college because they are being modest they may not get into the school of their choice.”
Students should also make sure they are well rounded and take leadership roles in clubs and sports. It makes a difference if students are involved in multiple activities showing how dedicated they are to the whole school and not just academics. Everything that a student does outside of school can directly impact how prepared they are for college and colleges look if students volunteer for different organizations.
Offering addition advice, Sharp reminds families that applying to college can be like buying a car. Everyone is competing with each other to get students to attend their college and the first sticker price they give may not be the best price families can get from them. They may offer acceptance to any number of students and many of them will not attend so the money they were offered goes back to play.
“If you really want to go to a college and the price is a little out of your range you can pick up the phone or even go to the school and set up a meeting with admissions or financial aid and see what else they can offer you,” stated Sharp. “I know this sounds strange but it happens and if you do not take the time to ask you will never know. Last, never sell yourself short on applying to schools. You cannot win the game if you do not play and if you do not apply you will never know.
Sharp reminds parents and families that students are never too young to start looking at colleges and building the student’s mindset that going to college is the next step after high school. In Sharp’s experience, students think too often that they can wait and get all A’s their senior year and that will help but that is not the case. Colleges want to see that students have worked hard since they entered high school and put the work in to get into their school. Sharp states that it is important that students and families get expert help when applying to colleges.
“Whether the student asks a counselor, a teacher or even a student that has been through the process how do they really know,” said Sharp. “They should ask questions and seek out help to make sure they are doing the right things so they do not find out later they did it wrong and could have received help.”