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We asked our tutors to share some advice they wish they had taken or known about during the college preparation and application process. Here are their answers.

PREPARING FOR STANDARDIZED TESTS:

“I didn’t know the PSAT was an opportunity for lots of financial support until I started tutoring at Galin…. [Additionally] I took the ACT only once, and I didn’t prepare at all. I didn’t even know what the sections were. I showed up to the test with a TI-89 calculator, which was not allowed, so I took the test without a calculator. There weren’t a lot of resources/information disseminated in my small town, and I didn’t know that class rank matters in admissions/scholarship considerations. The ACT ended up being the tiebreaker for these things…. Advice to self: Take the test seriously.” – Caitlin

“The extent of my ACT preparation was taking a practice test the night before and checking my answers, so I would have done a little more prep knowing what I know now.” – Eric

“Prepare for my standardized exams earlier.” – Matt


PREPARING FOR COLLEGE:

“Above all, I would have job shadowed more. I don’t think it is important to know your career path going into college, but I think it is important to be aware of what kind of jobs are out there and what you can do to get yourself prepared for the workforce.” – Eric

SEARCHING FOR COLLEGES:

“Think about what size and type (research, liberal arts, public) of school will be a good fit for you, your personality, and your goals. Don’t just do this conceptually—ask others where they think you would flourish (and listen to them!), visit some schools of different types, and talk to people who went to different schools (siblings, family friends, etc). Even if you think you know what you want, it’s okay—even good—to still consider and apply to a few of the other types…. If you are interested in medical school / research, look for a school that has programs to help you get those research experiences…. Look for a school that helps its students get internships and thinks internships are important. Most majors don’t correlate to jobs, but internships do.” – Maria

“I would try to be more independent in my college search. As much as I don’t want to admit it, my peers’ impressions of schools influenced where I applied, meaning I crossed a lot of schools off my list that I might have really enjoyed.” – Eric

“Consider the efficacy of the careers/job placement services at a school.” – Matt

“Find out what it means for a school to be liberal arts versus a university that offers different colleges within it (nursing, business, engineering, etc.).” – Allie

APPLYING TO COLLEGE:

“I thought the college applications were due the day they opened. I didn’t prepare ahead of time at all, except for to know to which colleges I’d apply (a grand total of two—and only because my mom made me have a “backup”). I wrote all of my essays and submitted my application that day. Probably not the way to set yourself up for success/lots of options…. Advice to self: Apply to more places. Prepare your application and have other people review it. Take your time submitting.” – Caitlin

“I would have familiarized myself with the term ‘demonstrated interest.’ Colleges track students’ demonstrated interest to protect their yield (the number of students who, once accepted to a college, actually commit and matriculate to that college). By demonstrating your interest in a variety of ways—visiting colleges, making connections with faculty and students, and then writing about these experiences in your college essays—you can make yourself stand out among other applicants.” – Eric

“Trust your gut. Even if a school has been your dream school, or your parents or siblings went there, or it has a good ranking, if you don’t feel joyful and excited on your visit, it might not be the place for you. College is hard. Pick somewhere you will be happy, meet great people, and grow as a person.” – Maria

“I would have applied to more schools. I don’t think I fully understood that I could have so many different options in terms of location, academics, and potential scholarships.” – Hannah

THINKING ABOUT TUITION & SCHOLARSHIPS:

“Apply to places even if you think you can’t afford them! Wait and see what they offer you for financial aid.” – Allie

“In retrospect, maybe I would’ve applied to a few more reach schools, but I was very happy with my college choice. Of course, cost was a concern, but we educated ourselves and knew which schools provided the right kind of aid.” – Dan

“I love where I went to undergrad and I would do it over again in a heartbeat, but I absolutely wish I would have applied to reach schools. One reason I didn’t apply to reach schools was due to the listed tuition costs. I think it’s worthwhile to apply to schools to see what scholarships and financial aid is available before making a decision.” – Amy

“I definitely should have applied for more scholarships. My university offered one that I didn’t apply to because I wasn’t sure if I qualified for it. I should have gone for it, because getting it would have drastically altered my student loan situation, and it never hurts to try.” – Hannah

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