Erin Moriarty, Loyola University Chicago’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, knows that the college admissions process can be an intimidating experience for high school students. It’s often one that they have trouble navigating. This article presents her seven-step method for high school students that want to secure acceptance to their dream school.
1. Pick Colleges that Are Best for What You Want
Picking a college is an important part of life, and you want to ensure that you choose the best one for you and your life goals. Selecting a college solely on its reputation for athletics, its proximity to home, or the number of your friends that will be going there won’t help you in the long run if it doesn’t have your intended program. The decision is yours to make, so go with what will best help you achieve your goals.
2. Consider Taking the SAT and ACT
One of the first steps in the college application process is to sign up for the SAT and ACT. It’s best to take these tests during the end of your junior year, with the latest deadline being December of your senior year. While many colleges have turned to test-optional admissions, not all have. Therefore, it is important to keep your options open, and by taking a standardized test, this allows more flexibility as you apply to schools.
3. Spend Quality Time on Your Applications
University applications are your chance to show off your unique qualities and tell your story. Don’t rush through the application questions or essays. Instead, take the time to review your answers so that your story shines through. It could be the difference between being accepted or not.
4. Visit Schools in Person if Possible
Once you’ve narrowed down your list – especially if you’ve already been accepted – try your best to find the time to visit the campus you could be attending. There are many ways to engage with the community through virtual experiences. These experiences can help you feel more comfortable with the school, but there is still no better way to know for sure until you step foot on campus and get a sense of the place. Many students have found that the in-person experience was pivotal in their decision-making process.
5. Ask Your Teachers for Recommendations
One of the most valuable things you can present to potential universities is a letter of recommendation from your teachers. Many teachers have known you for years and can attest to your hard work and dedication. While it might be nerve-wracking to ask a teacher to write a letter about you, it’s something they are used to doing. They want to see you succeed and will be happy to assist.
6. Take Costs into Consideration
Higher education is a life-long investment and can be costly. It is crucial to take your budget into account as you review your college options. While it can be costly, there can also be assistance. Make sure to inquire about merit scholarships and any additional scholarships a school may offer. And don’t forget to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what aid you may be eligible for. Figuring out your financials for college is excellent preparation for real life.
7. Prepare for Interviews
Whether they are done virtually or in person, many universities conduct interviews or individual appointments to get a real sense of possible candidates. To prepare, do some searches online for common questions that are asked and practice your responses.
If you have friends or family members that can ask you the questions and give you feedback on your answers, you will likely perform even better.
Going to college is a big step in life that can lead to fantastic opportunities. Getting into a college that matches your needs and goals will help determine how successful your next four years of education will be.
Who Is Erin Moriarty?
Erin Moriarty, Loyola University Chicago’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, is passionate about students. She believes strongly in Loyola’s mission – to help mold young men and women to become leaders in today’s society and to seek God in all things. Outside of work, Erin can be found participating in Pedal the Cause or biking along the shores of Lake Michigan.