I will start by saying that I absolutely love the institution where I received my undergraduate degree and now work. That being said, last week I was thinking about the path that I took to get here. I was talking with a student about their experience in applying to and visiting the many schools they were considering. As I think back to my time in high school, I am sometimes amazed that I made it through the college process. I sometimes take for granted that students should have a firm grasp on all of this information. As I start to think back to my experience, I realize that I have selective memory regarding the story that I have in my head and what actually occurred. I wanted to provide a very brief list of practical steps. While this is not a complete guide for students applying to college, here are four things that I wish I had known.
1. Apply as early as possible to maximize your opportunity with scholarships. Also, know which admission process each college you are interested in uses. Is it rolling admission or deadline based. Is early action offered? Is early decision offered? What does this all mean? Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
2. Take the SAT and/or ACT early and often. While standardized tests are not necessarily the definitive factor in regards to determining success in college and/or life, they are a necessary part of many college files. Allow the admission department plenty of time for dialogue with you as the student. Not all admission departments are automated, and there are some that will take a genuine interest in helping you as an individual student in your journey.
3. Do not assume the institution that your friend attends will be the place that you will enroll. This may very well be the case, but you need to visit to judge the fit of the school for yourself. Do this early so that you have plenty of time to find the best fit for you. If everyone’s preference worked in a one size fits all fashion, they would only make minivans and everyone would be satisfied.
4. The last is one that I feel is the most important in regards to pursuing Christian Higher Education. Determine the fit for which you are looking. Do you want Christ-Centered? Do you want one that is Christian by heritage and now only loosely affiliated? Do you want a legalistic environment? Are they serious about being intentionally Christian? Do not assume that every environment is the same. You need to get on campus to judge the environment for yourself. Also, determine the academic fit of the university you are considering. Are they serious about academic excellence? Are they serious about producing great leaders? You have to examine what you are looking for in terms of an institution. They come in many different forms, and it is up to you to determine the right fit.
Again, this is not even close to being a list that will get you from the beginning to the end. These are four things that I wish that I had looked at differently as I moved through the college selection process. The end result of my search was unbelievable, but the process that I took to get there was not the most efficient. I hope that you have a better experience in regards to the process than I did, but I hope that you find the same result.