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Tips for the College-bound Senior

October 16, 2015
By Catherine Freeman

The college admissions process is in full swing at West Sound Academy. Students are working hard to find schools and complete applications. This week alone the school has been visited by representatives from Hampshire College, Whitworth University, The Evergreen State College, and Marlboro College and many students took advantage of  PSAT testing day on October 14 to visit schools on their own.  Here are some suggestions for seniors and their families on important aspects of this journey: the search, the application, the financing, and communication with colleges.


Looking for a School:


With thousands of options for higher education narrowing the list can be a daunting task. The following websites (listed here in no particular order) can be useful for searching based on grades, scores, location, interests, or other attributes.


The Essay:


Many schools require a personal statement. Generally one essay can be modified to fit the prompt for most schools however it is imperative that the essay fits the prompt. While a great essay will not guarantee admission, a poor essay can severely decrease your chances. Essays are the student’s opportunity to add his or her personality to all the other information that has been supplied.

The goal is to craft an essay that accurately reflects your qualities and character so it is a smart idea to give your essay to your parents and friends to read so you can make sure it accurately reflects you and your personality.

The following links can be helpful for providing further guidance for the essay:




An acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, this application is based on the financial records of parents and becomes available January 1. Using the information provided, the family’s expected contribution is calculated and sent to schools. Aid is given out in a first-come-first-serve manner so completing the FAFSA as close to January 1 is very important.

Here are some FAFSA websites for more information:

Federal Student Aid -


Communication with Schools:

Schools want to see students who are capable of navigating through the application process by themselves, without a lot of extra assistance from parents. Calling schools and asking for guidance and information can be very helpful, but it is important to remember that the application is the student’s responsibility. If parents call schools to ask for information and indicate that they are completing the process for their student, the schools are much less likely to be helpful. Parents, if you do need to make the call, consider tempering your role by saying, “Robert and I were working on your application and we have a question…” College admissions offices are staffed by real people and a good deal of charm can go a long way.


Other Scholarships:


While not always in large sums, there are scholarship opportunities from local organizations such as the North Kitsap Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis. Generally deadlines are in March and most scholarships ask for similar things like an essay, letters of recommendations, and transcripts. Some scholarships require interviews. While not necessarily for large sums of money, they do add up. I will be working to make students aware of any scholarship opportunities to which I am alerted.


No Two Searches the Same:


This time in the senior year students need to combine self-reflection  with solid research on post-secondary opportunities that match them on a range of factors.  No two college search processes are the same and students should look beyond the latest “ranking” and “name-brand” to find more meaningful measures of college fit.

Schools where WSA's Class of 2015 are enrolled:

The American University of Paris

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Lewis & Clark College

Michigan State University

Mount Holyoke College

Reed College

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Portland

University of Washington

Whitman College

Willamette University

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