Sorting Through Acceptance Letters: Which to Choose?

It may seem like having a few acceptance letters to choose from would be a great problem to have in the spring of your senior year. While it is an honor and an exciting time, it can also be stressful to make the final decision, especially when faced with several excellent choices. It is important to put in the time to make the best decision possible and end up at the perfect college for you next year.

Refer Back
Be sure to hold onto the brochures and materials you collected during interviews and campus visits. These things, along with any notes you made at the time, can help to jog your memory and make the decision a little easier. Think about how you felt on each campus, which ones stand out and which made you feel at home from the beginning?

Additional Research
If you come up with additional questions or feel like you still need more information, don’t be afraid to contact the admissions office or to follow up with contacts you made on campus. These people can help you to feel confident about your decision and ensure you choose the right school for next year.

Practical Considerations
For many students, cost is an important factor in making your decision. If you are being offered a particularly generous financial aid package or scholarships from one of your top school — it may help to bump it ahead of the competition. Similarly, an acceptance from a good state school with a great deal for students in the state can be tough to pass up if cost is a big component of your choice. Similarly, you may want to consider other practical matters, like the location of the school and how far from home you would be while attending college.

Talk it Over
It can sometimes be helpful to talk through your options with a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor as you make your final decision about college. Just the simple act of talking about your schools with someone else may help the top school to become clear. A guidance counselor may also be able to help you to narrow your options and a parent may have insights from going along on the process with you.

When one school ends up the clear front runner, it’s time to send in your acceptance, announce it to your family and friends, and celebrate the end of your college search process.

Landing That First Job

With summer fast approaching, many high school students will be looking for a summer job. Summer jobs can help you to gain work experience, earn money, and learn some skills that can translate into jobs in the future. Landing a first job can be tough and knowing where to start and how to put together a first resume is the initial challenge.

The Resume
What do you put on a resume when you don’t have any work experience? It’s important to think about experiences that could translate into skills for the job. Leadership in extracurricular activities, academic honors, or volunteer work can all translate into skills and experience for a job. Organize your past experience, education, and skills into a resume that highlights your strengths and what you’re looking to gain from a summer job.

Finding Jobs
An important step when starting any job hunt is to ask around, ask family members, neighbors, teachers, and friends if they know of anyone looking to fill openings during the summer months. You can also look at websites like CareerBuilder and Craigslist for potential openings in your community. You may also want to ask your guidance counselor, many counseling offices will have information available about summer jobs and be able to help with your resume too. If there are companies where you are particularly interested in working, call or email to find out about any potential openings, showing initiative may be what sets you apart in the process.

The Interview
Showing up for your first interview can be a nerve-wracking process. It’s important to remember that if you’ve landed an interview, chances are you are a serious candidate and the company is devoting time and resources to finding out more about you. Dress professionally and be courteous when you arrive for your interview. This is a chance to show them why you are right for the job and to find out more about the position itself. Be ready to answer questions and also to ask questions when given the opportunity. Bring along another copy of your resume to give to your interviewer and a pad of paper and a pen to take down any information. Follow up your interview with a thank you note.

Landing a first job isn’t an easy process, but getting the job search skills down pat will help you to fill out your resume, make important connections, and find jobs for the summer and in the future.

What to Look for When Deciding Where to Apply to College

Part of the reason that the college search can seem so daunting to high school students is that there are many factors to consider. Isolating things that really matter can be challenging, but with a little research, you’ll be able to make good choices about your college applications.

One basic decision you will need to make is how far from home you would like to be during college. Some students prefer to stay close by, while others will want to be within a few hours drive from their families. Other students think nothing of applying to schools across the country or around the world. This is a personal decision, but one that will greatly impact your college decisions.

The type of location is another important factor. Some students will want a college located in the heart of a city, while others won’t mind being in a rural setting. Along the same lines, consider if you want to be part of a large campus or a university with graduate students on campus too. Some students prefer a large college environment while others want a smaller school where there is often more interaction between students and professors.

Rankings are often an important tool for high school students. Look at the average SAT scores and percentage of applicants that are accepted. A high school guidance counselor can also help you to pinpoint schools that are a good fit for you academically. When you look at rankings, you may also want to look at the retention rate or how many students continue on at the college after the first year.

When you visit a college campus, talk to as many students and professors as possible. Students will be great for honest advice and a look at the type of people you would be living and learning with on campus. Ask them about their classes, their favorite part of campus, and why they chose the school. Ask professors to describe the average student on campus and to tell you what you can expect from their department.

Another factor has to be finances. Many public schools will offer lower tuition to in-state students and many are very affordable. Most private colleges are more expensive, but many offer excellent financial aid packages. If cost is a factor, get all of the information you can about financial aid packages and what the average student ends up actually paying.

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