Getting ready for college

It’s time for most high school seniors to do the college dance, that means financial aid paperwork, college tours, scholarship information and more. For high school juniors, it means taking SATs and starting to think about what’s ahead in the next year.


So, what should students and parents do now to get ready for college?

Hopewell Junction resident Janet Corrie has been through the college admissions process three times. Her eldest daughter is a graduate of Maryland University, her middle child a sophomore at Binghamton University and her youngest a senior at John Jay High School.


Choosing a two-year or four year college?

“During the summer of their junior year, we used our vacation time to tour colleges. My husband and I have a criterion: choose seven schools within five to seven hours driving distance,” says Corrie. “That includes two safety net schools.”


“Safety” schools are colleges that the student likes that will virtually admit the student. If graduating students take the time to choose safety schools they will be happy to attend if their other schools do not come through and will minimize the anxiety experienced in the college application and admissions process.

In the Corrie family, once their graduating child selects colleges, the Corries map out the distance and the family hits the road to visit each campus. And they take equipment: a camera to take pictures and a two pocket folder to collect paraphernalia.


“We take pictures because by the fifth college they all begin to look alike, this helps distinguish each one. Taking notes was advantageous because the girls would capture an idea or grasp a question that my husband and I may have overlooked,” says Corrie. “Plus as parents we’re focused on the financial, while our kids are focused on the social.”

Is going to college really important?


On the front of the pocket folder is an index card with the name of the college printed on it. The student jots down information about the college that interests them. “Size of dorm rooms, sports, clubs, and cafeteria were items that I focused on,” says Jalissa Corrie, sophomore at Binghamton University.


Nicole Schmidt, a guidance counselor at Red Hook High School, believes campus visits are like shopping for a car. “You have to do your research to find a quality college. Parents and students, especially students, should know what type of campus they want to live on: geographic region, large university versus small liberal arts college, country like Bard or city like Columbia.”


According to author Jaye J. Fenderson of Seventeen’s Guide to Getting into College: Know Yourself, Know Your Schools & Find Your Perfect Fit!, the difference between a liberal arts and an Ivy League University is as follows: universities consist of graduate and professional schools plus an undergraduate program. They award both graduate and undergraduate degrees.


Liberal arts colleges offer general education in subjects such as literature, history, mathematics, natural science, social science, language, art, and music. A non liberal arts college offers specialized programs or majors that correlate with specific careers like journalism, nursing or marketing. Regardless the type of institution parents and students choose, finding a quality college requires consistent and timely preparation in four critical areas: test scores, extracurricular activities, financial aid and college fairs.



Angela Batchelor is a freelance writer in Fishkill, NY.