Common Application Essay Questions Released AND Getting a Jump on Early Applications

 

Juniors, AKA Rising Seniors: The Common Application has released essay prompts for the college applications you will be completing for admission.  You will be choosing one of the following topics to let admissions committees know more about you.  Summer is a great time to reflect on who you are and how you got to be that person—and it is also a great time to start drafting your essay!

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

 

Summer is also a good time to prepare other parts of your application, especially if you are considering applying to a college under an early decision or early action program.  The deadlines for early programs vary by college, but are generally no later than November 1.  Here’s a brief description of what those options are and how they differ.

 

Early Decision is a binding admissions option, meaning that, if you are admitted to a college as an Early Decision applicant, you are obligated to attend.  This option is the one to use if you are certain you want to attend a particular college.  Colleges admit a higher percentage of Early Decision applicants than Regular Decision applicants.

Early Action is a non-binding program for students who would like to get an early read on their application and, if admitted, have an acceptance in hand before deciding if and where to apply elsewhere.  Many colleges accept a higher percentage of Early Action applicants than Regular Decision applicants, but not as high a percentage as Early Decision applicants.

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission!

 

 

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LHS Sophomores: You Are Trailblazers!

 

Sophomores, next spring you will be part of the first group of Colorado high school students who will be taking the SAT as the state-mandated test for all juniors.

Nervous?  Don’t be: you will have plenty of time and support to prepare.

The College Board offers many online and printed resources, but the best place to start may be with Khan Academy.  Some of are already be familiar with Sal Khan’s clear and helpful information on academic topics of all sorts.  Now he and the College Board have formalized a partnership that will give you access to free, personalized test preparation for the SAT.  Just log on to www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat to get started–this is something you can begin over the summer.  And next school year, you can expect the staff and teachers at LHS to provide additional information and support as you prepare for the SAT.

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission!

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Juniors: Tell your parents about the rescheduled parent night!

 

 

Our annual Junior Parent College Admission Information Night had to be rescheduled due to the March 23rd blizzard.  It will now be held Wednesday May 4, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the LHS Community Room.  At this special program for parents, they will learn how to support you in the process of applying to and affording college.  Topics include: how the college selection process works, how to put together a realistic college list, the role of standardized tests, how to make the most of a campus visit, the role of teacher recommendations and personal essays, and how to finance the college experience.  Please be sure your parents join the Counseling staff for this very important meeting!

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Juniors: Time to Ask for Teacher Recommendations

 

Juniors!  It is not too early to think about which teachers to ask to write recommendation letters for your college applications next fall.  Colleges prefer to see recommendations from core-course teachers during the applicant’s junior year of high school.  Keep in mind that a number of colleges require two teacher recommendations (often one from the math/science area and one from the English/social studies/foreign language area).  Choose teachers who know you well enough that they can describe how you participate in and contribute to the classroom—and definitely choose teachers who like you and can write a strong recommendation on your behalf!

As a courtesy to our faculty, once you have two teachers to recommend you, it is best to stop asking for additional teacher recommendations, so that teachers can focus their efforts on those students who truly need the recommendations that they write.

Once a teacher has agreed to write a recommendation for you, come to the Counseling Office and get a Student Profile Form.  Once you have completed it, make copies to share with the teachers who will be recommending you.

Be sure to waive your right to see recommendation letters written on your behalf, to give the recommendations credibility.  Selection committees want to be sure that your teachers shared their input honestly and in confidence.  Simply ask your teachers to hold their recommendations until it is time to upload them to the colleges to which you are applying.  If you are applying to colleges that request hard copies, you will need to provide the teachers with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope in which they should mail the recommendation.

Finally, be sure to thank your recommenders for taking the time to help you in the application process; and, next spring, be sure to let them know where you have been admitted and where you will enroll!

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission!

 

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More about (fabulous) Family Connection

 

Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Graders: I mentioned back in January that a new opportunity (the Naviance platform) would soon be available for Longmont High School students and families.  Your pathway into this college and career readiness platform is through FAMILY CONNECTION, which is now up and running!

To begin taking advantage of Family Connection, simply go to the Longmont High School homepage, select Family Connection from the choices in the header, and log in as you always do. You can begin experimenting with the options of building a resume, doing a career or college search, building a list of colleges in which you are interested, etc.  Your parents will be able to track your progress and see where you might need extra help.

You will be using Family Connection throughout the rest of your time at LHS. Ultimately, you will be applying to college through Family Connection.

Please come to see us in the Counseling Office if you want to know more about Family Connection!

 

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Setting Up Campus Visits over Spring Break

 

Sophomore, Juniors, and Seniors: Spring Break is a great time to visit colleges! Most colleges will be in session, with students available for you to meet and classes available for you to attend.

If you are just starting the process of developing a college list, you may want to visit different types of colleges (big, small, public, private) to help narrow your choices. If you are further along in the process, a campus visit will help you write a more compelling application, because you will be able to articulate why you think a college is a great match for you.

Some colleges track ‘demonstrated interest,’ meaning they keep track of students who have visited and assume those students are more interested in attending than those who don’t—so be sure to make an official visit by signing up through the college’s website for an information session and a tour, as well as classes, lunch, and/or meetings with financial aid officers, coaches, or faculty, as appropriate.

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission!

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Juniors: Tell your parents!

 

Our annual Junior Parent College Admission Information Night will be held Wednesday, March 23, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the LHS Community Room. At this special program for parents, they will learn how to support you in the process of applying to and affording college.  Topics include: how the college selection process works, how to put together a realistic college list, the role of standardized tests, how to make the most of a campus visit, the role of teacher recommendations and personal essays, and how to finance the college experience.  Please be sure your parents join the Counseling staff for this very important meeting!

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Making the Most of Your Summer

 

It may not seem like it now, but summer is right around the corner, and deadlines for some summer opportunities are looming.  Do you have plans for making the most of your time?

Colleges and universities around the country offer a wealth of academic opportunities for high school students. Students who participate in summer programs benefit from the chance to experience the wider world of academics and social independence.  You might become more excited about the idea of doing college work, given the chance to experience college-level teaching with a group of like-minded students.  You will get a sense of the freedom of having more control of your day-to-day class schedule than is typical for high school.  Some programs offer college credit for a semester of intensive work over a few weeks; others introduce students to a field of study, such as engineering, that is difficult to fully imagine in a high school setting.  We have a file of summer programs in the Counseling Office, and deadlines are rapidly approaching—come on in to check them out!

Summer can be also a great time to get a job (or work additional hours at a job you already have) or to pursue an activity you are passionate about.  Want to start or join a band? Want to read War and Peace? Practice photography or learn Photoshop?  Perhaps you would prefer to volunteer in the local area or on a service trip to another country.

If you are thinking about how what you do this summer might enhance or detract from your college applications down the road, be sure that whatever you do, it reflects maturity, responsibility, time management skills, and initiative. Sleeping in, leveling up in World of Warcraft, or garnering Twitter followers is unlikely to demonstrate the characteristics that will make you a good student at the college level.

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission!

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Making Good Choices when You Register for Next Year’s Classes

 

Lots of students wonder what colleges are looking for when they select students for their institutions.  While many factors contribute to the decisions that admissions committees make, the most important element of any college application is the applicant’s high school transcript.  No matter what else they are looking for, they first of all have to be confident that you have the interest and ability to do college work.

Since colleges will look to see if you have done well in a challenging academic program at LHS, be sure, when you register for next year’s classes, to focus on putting together a strong course load with as many Honors and AP classes as possible–and with as few free blocks as possible!   As an Advanced Placement High School, Longmont High is known for the breadth of AP classes offered, and colleges will expect you to have taken advantage of these opportunities to expand your knowledge while you are here.

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“Outside” Scholarships: When to Apply and How Colleges Treat Them

 

The St. Vrain Valley School District and Longmont High are very fortunate to have a number of outside organizations that provide college scholarships for LHS students. These scholarships recognize academic accomplishment; athletic, musical, or other special talents; obstacles or challenges a student has overcome; or other factors that merit support.  Applying for and being awarded one of these scholarships is a real feather in your cap!

The deadline for applying for this year’s SVVSD scholarships is February 29, so be sure to meet the deadline! The LHS-specific scholarship information and applications will be released after that date, with an application deadline of April 15.

Do keep in mind that different colleges handle these so-called ‘outside’ awards differently. For example, a college may apply the first $1000 you receive in outside awards to reduce loans you may have been offered.  Or they may use your outside money to reduce or replace a grant they may have given you.  Colleges are legally prohibited from over-awarding federal aid, so you cannot be awarded more aid than college costs.  Be sure to check with your colleges to see how your outside award will figure into your financial aid package.

As always, come to the Counseling Office if you need more information on this topic or any other topic related to college admission.

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