How to PREP for College

Worried about college? Good. Have not had a mental breakdown yet? Check College Vine. You think this article is a joke, wait until you look at your list of colleges. But wait! With these useful tips and advice from our beloved seniors and counselors, the thought of college will become less of a chore and more of an exciting next step in your life.  

For some, the idea of choosing one school is stressful; for others it is exciting to envision the future. Whichever group a student is in, it is still a complicated process and transition from high school to college, so hopefully, some of this advice from college application survivors and advisors will help.  

Ms. Goodwin, one of Seattle Prep’s resident college counselors, said “Don’t let avoidance be your coping mechanism;” Ms. Goodwin suggests organizing your list into three groups: reach schools, possible/target schools, and likely schools. One of the biggest mistakes Ms. Goodwin sees in students is “not putting enough energy into possible and likely schools.” Too many students put all their chips on schools that are reached and often end up disappointed when it comes time to choose where they want to go. “It’s perfectly okay to focus on getting two or three [likely schools] that you love, and the rest is gravy.”  

Ms. Goodwin also strongly suggests touring as many schools as possible (if possible). Getting a feeling of campus life can make or break a school for many students. If tours are a possibility, “take notes and take pictures.” Colleges will start to blend, and documenting experiences and thoughts about a school can help gather one’s ideas after the tour has ended. If touring schools is not an option, there are plenty of great resources online. YouTube and college websites are fantastic places to find information. Ms. Goodwin emphasizes that “they like to see, especially as a senior, that you give back to your community through leadership.” 

Students get a chance to market themselves to prospective colleges. Students should write down all the things they have accomplished. Ms. Goodwin believes that “if you initiate something, build something, start a business, maybe a cooking blog; colleges love that.”  

Aiden Wylie ‘22 said, “how you treat your teachers will affect you in the long term”- they will be writing letters of recommendation, which are a key piece in applications. 

Wylie eased some worried minds as he reflected on his writing process. “Not everyone is going to get a lightning bolt when they know exactly what they want to write about,” he said. Looking over essay prompts as soon as they are released can help one start thinking about different angles. Many seniors recommend that juniors start early- their future self will thank them for starting their essays during the summer. 

But wait, what if sports are a factor in a student’s college search? Well, here are a few experts’ advice for them. Lily O’Donoghue-McDonald ‘22 and Daniela Sekhar ‘22 will both be running in college; O’Donoghue-McDonald at Harvard and Sekhar at NYU.  McDonald says that student-athletes “shouldn’t be afraid to reach out” to coaches. She sent out her email with an introduction of herself and her times to around 15 coaches over the summer. Sekhar “knows that a lot of other people will have more free time and be able to go out more and that is a sacrifice that [she] chose to make.” It is still possible to have a life among these activities, it will just take a greater effort to organize time. 

 Stress is a natural part of this process, but it should not be overwhelming. Ms. Goodwin puts it perfectly: “This is your journey, and you can make it as big or as small as you want, and if making it huge and comprehensive is totally stressing you out… it is okay to slow it down and go at your own pace.”