We tried a new approach to the problem of finding a college for him; he is applying to need blind colleges. These are colleges, usually private, that have large endowments. When US citizens apply and are accepted, the college makes sure they can attend, so they take care of much of the tuition. Unfortunately, need blindness does not necessarily extend to international students. For them, the wording is “need aware”. So, they may pick up the scholarship or they may not. I guess it depends on how positively they see the potential student.
Ben’s ACT scores went up 2 points when he took it the second time, so that was good. The next ACT test will be a “free” one, provided by the high school and takes place in February. The advantage of having three ACT scores is that the school or someone then superscores it, so that the highest marks are the ones that go to the colleges. At least that makes you look better.
Now we come to the essay writing part of the application process. Colleges ask all manner of questions for the applicant to write about. The most common are: Who are you? and Why do you want to attend X college? Others are more philosophical, What is something that distressed you and what did you do about it? Or When did you take leadership in a situation? Who is your hero and why?
Every now and then, Ben looks up from his computer and says, “Do they know we are all just lying?” In other words, what they would write if they were honest, especially about why you want to go to that university is, “Let me in and I’ll like you and when I graduate with a good job, I’ll send you money. I’ll seek to make you proud of me, just LET ME IN!” or perhaps “I need the money and I’m hoping you will give it to me.”
Ben is or has applied to 11 different colleges and universities. I thought deadlines were later for internationals, but either they changed the deadlines or I read that wrongly. Most of the deadlines are January 1, a few on January 15. There are “rolling deadlines”. You can apply throughout the year and if accepted, start in a semester other than in the Fall. The schools he is applying to, for the most part, do not do that. Actually, it is better for students to all start at once, get to know each other, go through orientation together and form a solid community. If you come in late, you can miss all that.
Most of the colleges to which he has applied accept the “common application”. This is a wonderful cooperative effort that enables a student to complete one application with all the usual, but necessary information, including financial information, and do that ONE time instead of repeating it for each institution. There is even an essay that goes with the Common App. If all institutions would accept just that, it would be much easier, however, that is not the case. While some colleges are willing to consider an applicant with one essay, most of them want more than that. So, the 11 colleges Ben is applying to require a total of 33 essays. Some could be reworked and used for similar questions, but even that takes a lot of time. He has spent HOURS and DAYS working on these essays.
The deadline of January 1 came, and he finally pressed “SEND” on the Common App. About 11 pm, he wondered if they had gone through. He checked, and realized to his horror that each essay had to be sent in separately. He leapt into action, and got the essays in before the midnight deadline. When he told me about it the next morning, my heart nearly stopped.
He has three more schools to apply to, and the deadline is in two days. One of them does not accept the Common App, so that one has to be done from scratch. Sigh. Then, we sit back and wait for the decisions, which are due on April 1.
One good thing about the essays: he has had a LOT of writing practice. Now that he is taking Senior English, he is writing a lot in that class. One assignment is to write in a journal each day. Ben described it as “writing about some random topic”. He has LOTS of random topics on his computer, thanks to the 33 essays! So, he’s probably good to go on the journal entries for a couple of months.