Tips to Help with the College Application Process

ACMB is happy to partner with Lara Kilgore of Beyond Education to share her tips on college applications. This is a sponsored post.  

Lara Kilgore is the founder and owner of Beyond Education, an education consulting company that offers one-on-one tutoring, college readiness advising, and home school instruction for families in the San Antonio community. Lara has successfully assisted students achieve acceptance to Tier One universities including The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, Tulane University, University of Southern California, University of San Diego, Wofford University, and Villanova University, along with many other respected universities and colleges. Her goal is to assist clients in identifying and determining the best collegiate path for them to achieve their unique life goals. During her 10 years in the business, Lara has assisted many families in navigating the stress and confusion that stems from the herculean college application process. Beyond Education strives to alleviate this stress by helping students recognize their strengths and develop a plan to reach their educational goals.

Lara Kilgore

When it comes to applying to college, both students and parents bear the stress in meeting non-negotiable deadlines associated with college applications. Add on top of that all of the required documentation, and this task can quickly become overwhelming. This is why it is essential to put together a plan BEFORE the application process begins.

Before your child gets the deer-in-headlights look at the mention of “college apps,” here are Beyond Education’s top three most important tips that any parent with a high-school-aged child should consider. By implementing a focused strategy, you can help the college application process become a time of empowerment and anticipation instead of anxiety and stress.

1. Begin the process early. This is the fun part! Don’t wait until the summer before your child’s senior year to start looking at colleges. Most students keep a mental “wish list” of colleges or universities to which they hope to apply and be accepted. Encourage your student to start researching those colleges as early as his/her  freshman or sophomore year. Ask your student what makes those colleges attractive. With the wide variety of institutions out there—four-year, two-year, public, private, small, medium, large, and so on—students need to begin thinking about what they want early on to narrow their search.

2. Use free resources first. Before planning a campus tour on the East Coast, have your student research the college’s website. This is another way you can start the process early; there’s no need to wait until your student’s junior or senior year. Check out recent posts that the university is highlighting, such as professors who have received prestigious awards or recent alumni who have been recognized for outstanding work. Most college websites should also list the majors they offer. This is a valuable, often underutilized resource. Have your student start investigating which majors and minors the school offers and which ones sounds interesting to him/her. If you dig a little deeper, you can also find the course requirements for each major. When I was in high school, for a split second I considered getting a bio-engineering degree because I loved science and excelled at math. However, looking at that degree plan, it didn’t take long for me to realize it was not the best fit for me. Exposing students to various college options will allow them to start distinguishing what they like about one over the other, and online research is a free and harmless way to start the process.

3. Make a list. I was blessed with a very wise father who gave me sage advice when I was exploring colleges. Along with teaching me to always make my bed every morning, he showed me the power of a list. Before going on any college tours, he made me create a list of what I wanted out of my college experience. Then, after each tour, we would debrief the school and see which boxes it checked off. Through this process, I discovered that some of my top priorities weren’t as important as others I’d originally put further down the list. I also added a few items to my list that I didn’t think of until after touring a few schools. Have your student keep a list of what he/she wants out of the college experience. Then refer back to this list anytime your child researches a school or visits a campus.

Some questions to consider for your child’s college list:

  • How big is the campus? How many students are enrolled?
  • Is Greek Life offered?
  • Does this college have athletic programs? intramurals open to all students?
  • Does it offer the major(s) and/or minor(s) I’m interested in?
  • How diverse is the campus?
  • Is this college in a big city? small town?
  • Does it offer a strong career advising program?
  • Does it provide testing accommodations or student support for classes?
  • What is the alumni network’s reputation for helping job seekers?

To learn more about their services and to read more tips on how to start planning for the college application process, check out Beyond Education’s website.

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