The Steps to Going to College

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Going to college might be one of the best choices you will ever make! It can lead you to better and greater things. People who go to college not only make more money, but they have better opportunities than people who decide not to go. Knowing what steps to take and when to take them can make all the difference when getting ready for college. I wish I knew these steps before I went through my college application process, so that maybe I would have had a smoother, less stressful and nerve wracking experience. Even though these are the main steps to a successful application process, some steps may vary depending on what kind of high school you go to, what kind of college you want to go to, and what you want your major to be.

First, you need to pick a major based on how you want to spend the rest of your life. Do you want to be a musician? A Veterinarian? A Biology teacher? There are hundreds and hundreds of majors that you can chose from. Don’t know what major is right for you? Sit back and try to picture yourself 15 years from now. What do you see yourself doing? Is human anatomy your favorite class? Try going somewhere in the science field. Maybe you have the highest grade in your math class. Try majoring in math education.

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If you don’t happen to have a favorite class, look outside the classroom and see what interests you. Maybe you have baby cousins you love to play with, perhaps majoring in child psychology or early childhood education is right for you. When in doubt, if you can’t find that one thing that tickles your interests, you can always be an “undecided Major” and just wait and see until you’re already in college to see what field of work you would like to go in.

Meanwhile, you need to see what kind of college is right for you. There are many types of colleges such as community colleges, trade schools, state schools, private universities, and ivy leagues. Finding what kind of college best fits you and your set major is a key step in the application process. Having a meeting and talking with your guidance counselor about what kind of college is best for you is very important. Your guidance counselor knows you and your grades better than anyone. Sometimes even better than you! Based on how well your grades are and what your major is, your guidance counselor will tell what kind of higher education you should go to. If you want to be an engineer, maybe a trade school or an engineering university like Clarkson University of Engineering would be best for you.

If you would like to go into music, depending on how good you are, maybe a state school like SUNY Postdam Crane School of Music, or a Private school like Nazareth Hart school of Music would be best for you. If to go into some kind of sports therapy or sports management, maybe a private university like Syracuse University would be good for you. There is a college for every major there is.

Then, you need to write a college essay that really sums up who you are as a person. Some colleges might let you pick your own topic, and some might give you topic for you that you need to do. An example a college might ask you is what made you pick your major. Some may ask you who is your most influential person in your life. For my college essay, I wrote about why I picked music education as my major. When writing a college essay, you need to make sure the college of your choice knows exactly what kind of person you are.

Even though this is a good time to brag about that one time you helped a little old lady cross the street, there is no need to lie or make you seem like a better person than you really are. No college wants a perfect student. Colleges are looking for well rounded students that are ready to learn and that can contribute to their schools community.

When you are done writing your college essay, make sure you bring it to your English teacher to proofread it for you. Maybe there are some spelling mistakes that you missed, or maybe there is a better way you can phrase a sentence or two. It is very likely that your English teacher knows you very well, so bringing it to another teacher who doesn’t know you at all and having them read it is a good idea. Just think, an admissions officer that knows nothing about you is going to read this and expect to know a good amount of information about you.

After you write your college essay, its time to apply! Narrowing down your college choices to about 5 schools is good. In my opinion, you shouldn’t apply to more than 5 schools, and no less than 2. Most, if not all colleges are on the website “”. Its a website where you fill out one application and it sends it to all the schools you’re applying to all at once. It saves so much time and it is a lot easier than filling out multiple applications for each one. Besides sending in your grades, writing your essay, and sending in your applications, having teacher/coaches recommendations is 100% required. Make sure you ask teachers who you think really know you, not just as a student, but as a person.

I picked my 10th grade global teacher/12th grade sociology teacher to write me a recommendation because she was a teacher that really knew how much of a hard working student I was. If you play a sport, most certainly have your coach write you a letter about your leadership skills. If you are going into the music field, some schools require you to have a recommendation letter from one of your music teachers. Once you press that send button, it’s probably the best feeling in the world. A huge weight is just lifted from your shoulders.

Next, you might think that you’re all done, but filing for financial aid is very important. If you go to a private school, how do you expect to pay $40,000+ a year with no help? Filling out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can help you find money. FAFSA determines the dollar amount you will be expected to contribute towards your college education.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing you have to really worry about filling out because it mostly has to do with your parents/guardians. But reminding them to fill it out as soon as possible is very important because there is a deadline. Filing for financial aid requires your parents/guardians to send in things like a copy of their taxes, a bank statement stating how much they make a other legal documents like that. It just helps make college a little bit easier to pay year, for.

In addition to filing for financial aid, when you get the total amount that you will have to pay for each college that you got accepted to, it’s time to pick which college you want to go to! This step is very easy for some because they knew exactly where they wanted to go before they even got their acceptance letter. For me, I was perfectly happy with either going to SUNY Potsdam, Nazareth College, or SUNY Buffalo State. But for all the wrong reasons. Yes, Potsdam had the great music program, but it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel the spark you should feel when you visit a school. I found myself only considering Potsdam because my bestfriend was going there.

My piece of advice for you is never pick a school based on where your friends are going. Your friends are not the ones who are paying for your education. They’re not the ones going to class for you. You are. No matter where you go, you will make so many new friends and feel right at home. Next, I was only considering Nazareth College because I was looking to continue my swimming and diving career, and they have one amazing team. I got my priorities mixed up and put my extracurricular activities before my education. Your academics are the most important thing. Unless you are some future olympian, your school work comes first.

After a stressful couple weeks and a couple of tear filled nights, I finally came to my senses and picked Buffalo State. They have an amazing music program – and even though they might not have the best swim team, and maybe not all my best friends go there, but I feel right at home. I can picture spending the next 6 years of my life on that campus. That’s what you need to look for in a college. Ever since I’ve committed to Buffalo, I’ve already made so many new friends and school hasn’t even started yet! So what I’m trying to say is, pick a college for you and your needs; not for anyone else.

Finally, and probably the most important thing you can do in this whole process, is enjoy your senior year. Don’t wish it away too fast. Senior year will be the last time to soak in all the fun parts of school you’ve enjoyed since the beginning of your high school career. Show off that seniority and enjoy being a starting member of your school’s lacrosse team, going after that lead role in your school’s play, cheering your brains out for the football and basketball teams, getting all pepped up during spirit weeks, and soaking in as much school spirit as you can take. Because once you start college, you’ll be right back at the bottom again.

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The Steps to Going to College. (2023, Jan 24). Retrieved from

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