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How to focus on college during these times



College admissions expert shares 7 great tips

College admissions expert shares 7 great tips


Halley Shefler, a college admissions expert and the Founder & President of ArtsBridge, offers suggestions on how to approach the college search. Shefler heads a consulting firm that works with high school students who aspire to study the arts. She shares some tips and activities that students should keep in mind to make the most out of their high school spring break:

  • Check out colleges virtually. Hundreds of colleges now offer virtual campus tours, information sessions, and opportunities to meet online with admissions counselors and even current students. You can also learn more about a school through YouTube videos that may walk you through parts of campus, offer a glimpse into a student’s daily life.

  • Consider doing “drive by” college visits at campuses that are reasonably close to home. Even if it’s a college you aren’t seriously considering applying to, the drive-by visit is a great way to supplement all the online research by giving you a physical sense of the college and its surrounding neighborhood.

  • Do an actual, real life, in-person college visit! Some colleges are offering on-campus sessions and tours. These require advance planning and registration, and due to social distancing limitations, numbers are likely to be limited, so book well ahead of time and don’t forget to bring your mask. This is also a chance to ask current students about their experiences and what they love or would change.

  • Carve out some time to research specific programs at the colleges you’re interested in. And keep notes in a spreadsheet so that you can keep track of what you find.

  • Juniors - get started with the college essay topic and brainstorming work. The Common App essay prompts have been the same for several years, and this essay is one of the few important pieces of the college application that can be done well in advance - even before senior year begins.

  • Artists - focus on your training. Familiarize yourself with the artistic admission requirements (prescreens, auditions, portfolios, interviews, headshots, résumés, artist statements, etc.) so that you aren’t caught off guard in the fall when materials are often due. Now is the time to begin thinking about how you will present yourself artistically to colleges.

  • Plan for your summer! Even if a summer program isn’t in the cards (though we do recommend these great ones), colleges will be interested in how you spend your time in the summer. Consider an online course, a volunteer or community service activity, a paid job, or plan your own deep dive into an extracurricular or artistic passion that will expand your knowledge or skills. There are plenty of ways to have fun while planning your college future!

  • Plan your senior year courses. As you consider what classes to take, keep in mind that selective colleges are interested in students who challenge themselves academically. For the colleges you are most interested in, check online to see how many years of each core academic subject they recommend to be a competitive applicant. Sites like Big Future are a great and efficient way to get this information on multiple colleges in one place.



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