Even though seniors have just begun their final year of high school, it’s time to start planning for the next step—college. For those who are interested in applying for college or financial aid, it is best to get a head start, which means the month of October will be a busy month for seniors and their parents.
“It’s important to research colleges, visit campuses or meet with local college representatives, know the admissions requirements and narrow down your options,” said Toccara Maytrott, Ramona High School’s college and career counselor. “It certainly isn’t a process that happens overnight. Websites such as www.californiacolleges.edu allow students to search for colleges by location, major, size, sports offered, GPA and SAT averages, etc. This is just one example of how students can identify colleges to which they want to apply.”
The first order of business is RHS College Night, which is open to seniors and parents of seniors in the district. It is Monday, Oct. 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the school’s Performing Arts Wing. The evening will help students and parents learn how to navigate through the many colleges and choose the right one for them.
It will also help parents devise a timeline of when to apply and how to apply for colleges. Lastly, it will answer the many questions parents have been asking about the current budget situation and how it is affecting college admissions.
Financial aid information will be briefly discussed during College Night. A Financial Aid Night will be held this spring.
“Whether you or your student is planning to attend a community college, CSU or UC, private or out-of-state college, there will be relevant information for you,” said Maytrott.
Throughout October, several colleges will visit RHS. On Oct. 16, a representative of Point Loma Nazarene University will be on campus, followed by UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 19, Westminster College on the 20th, Azusa Pacific on the 22nd, UC San Diego and Notre Dame de Namur on Oct. 23, and University of Redlands on the 29th.
College visits are open to juniors and seniors. Students just need to see Maytrott for a pass.
Among other major events happening this month are college fairs throughout the county. The San Marcos Unified College Fair is tonight, Oct. 8, at 6 in Mission Hills High School. The National Christian College Fair, which features Christian colleges, will be held on October 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Horizon Christian Fellowship. For more information on this fair, visit www.nccf.us or call 888-423-2477.
On Oct. 19, one of the largest fairs will be at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, where approximately 70 colleges will be on hand and will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Bulldog CONNECT is offering bus transportation at no charge to the students to the event. Students need to complete a permission slip and sign up as soon as possible.
If students can’t make those college fairs, two more will round out the month. The Grossmont Unified Career and College Fair will be on Oct. 21 from 5 to 7:45 p.m. at Cuyamaca College.
“College fairs are a great opportunity for students to meet with representatives from a variety of colleges from all over the nation,” said Maytrott. “It’s a good idea for students to research what colleges are going to be represented before going to the fair. It can get a little hectic with so many people in one room, so it’s smart to walk in with a plan of what schools you want to target.”
Maytrott encourages students to be prepared with questions for the college representatives. For example, questions about their academic programs, athletics, housing, cost and financial aid.
“You want to walk away feeling like you learned a little more than you would have had you just looked at the college’s Web site; focus on what really matters to you,” said Maytrott.
Part of most admissions requirements is the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which approximately 100 students will be taking this Saturday.
Some colleges take it even further. The UC schools, and some other highly selective schools, require applicants to also take Subject Tests (SAT II). Others also accept the ACT. Students are encouraged to check with the specific schools they are interested in attending.
Parents of freshmen or sophomores can get started in the process, too. On Oct. 14, the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) will be offered to all sophomores at no cost (juniors and freshman may take it for $15).
“Students who take this test will receive feedback on their specific strengths and weaknesses along with focused preparation on those areas in order to perform better on the actual SAT,” said Maytrott.
Students have until Oct. 12 to sign up for the PSAT with Connie Claxton in the RHS front office. For more information about the SAT and PSAT tests, parents can visit www.collegeboard.com and, for the ACT, www.actstudent.org.
“Applying to college can be an overwhelming task,” said Maytrott. “Much has changed in the past few years and especially this year with the current budget situation. Colleges have to drastically cut back on the number of students they are able to admit. The counselors at RHS have been going to a variety of conferences and staying up-to-date on the latest information pertaining to college admissions. Our goal is to ensure that our students are prepared for this increasingly competitive process.”
For moare information, parents and seniors can log onto the RHS Web site at www.ramonausd.net or call Maytrott at 760-787-4028. Those who are interested in receiving e-mails from Maytrott regarding upcoming college visits, local events and scholarship information may e-mail email@example.com and provide their or their child’s name, grade level and e-mail address.