Guest Blog - Kadeem Phillips, Engineering, Fisk & Vanderbilt Universities: 10 Easy Steps to Preparing for College
Hello, everyone, my name is Kadeem Phillips an Alumni of Memphis East High School and current Physics/Chemical Engineering Dual Degree student at Fisk University and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. This is my first post in the college-related blogs, so I wanted to start off by giving you tips to make preparing for college a breeze.
1. Research Early
Sophomore year in high school is not too early to start researching possible institutions. Early investigation and understanding of admissions requirements can lead to a better college "fit". Create a checklist of admission requirements for each institution of interest and make sure to follow through on these. Your application cannot be processed unless all supporting documentation is received.
2. ACT/SAT Testing
Take the ACT or SAT at least once in your junior year of high school to gauge your strengths and see where you need to increase your score. Universities set minimum ACT/SAT scores for admission and by taking these tests early you will give yourself time to improve your score. A higher test score equals a better chance for admission and more scholarship potential.
3. Make the Most of Your High School Time
Stay active in high school and participate in social, civic and academic groups that will diversify your experiences and background. These activities will not only add support to your application for admission, but will also give you the experience required to join some campus organizations.
4. Visit Campus
Make an appointment with the admissions office of the universities and colleges that interest you. Nothing can take the place of experiencing a campus to see for yourself the faculty, administrators and student body.
5. Attend Recruiting Events
Check college websites to see what recruiting events are available and if there are events that are geared towards your specific interests. If registration is required for the event, be sure to sign up.
6. Determine Your Future Career
Seriously consider what career you want to follow when you have completed college. Check out the websites for those academic departments and meet with faculty advisors who can guide your class selections and college experiences to provide the background that will help you succeed. Don't be afraid to explore several departments ‐ this is one way to choose a future major.
7. Don't Know Your Future Career Choice?
Let the campus career centers work for you. Career centers are there to assist and counsel you and to help you determine your strengths and potential career paths. Don't hesitate to call on the trained staff in these centers they have testing tools and can begin working with you as soon as you have been accepted to the institution.
8. Consider Living on Campus
Most colleges and universities offer on‐campus housing and research shows that students who live on campus are more likely to make better grades. Living on‐campus is convenient, affordable and part of the full college experience. Living in a residence hall puts you at the center of campus activity.
9. Double Check
Make sure all transcripts, ACT/SAT test scores, application fees, housing deposits, applications and resumes have been received by the admission office prior to their deadlines.
10. Attend Orientation
Orientation is a valuable experience that can be replaced by no other. At orientation you will have the chance to connect with current and future students, faculty and administrators, as well as schedule classes and check out your room assignment. Make every effort to participate in this event ‐ and take your parents!
Greetings, everyone! This is the second installation of our college-related blogs. Last month, we discussed how to find colleges that are right for you. This month, we’ll talk about filling out college applications, writing essays, and conducting interviews.
After you’ve decided where you want to apply to college, the next step is to actually fill out the application materials. 456 colleges use the Common Application, an application that you can fill out online and submit to multiple colleges. However, UT-Knoxville doesn’t use the Common App, nor do many other colleges in Tennessee. Make sure to check out your colleges’ requirements before starting any application.
Most applications, including the Common App, consist of several parts: basic information, like your name; academic information, which includes your transcript of classes and grades; standardized test scores; and financial information. It’s important that you fill out every part of the application to the best of your ability. For example, if you’re specifically asked for both your SAT score and your ACT score, make sure you provide both.
Some colleges might ask for a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Always give the teacher at least three weeks’ notice before the application is due. This will ensure that your teacher will have time to write something meaningful. Some high schools even have policies stating that you must give a teacher a certain amount of time to write the letter. Respect your teachers’ time by following those guidelines.
In addition to the application form, colleges will usually ask you for an "essay" or a "personal statement" that helps them to get to know you as more than a standardized test score or a GPA. These essays are important because they provide you with an opportunity to show college admissions officers who you really are. However, the essay-writing process can be daunting; it's hard to look at a blank sheet of paper and plan out a concise and meaningful essay. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
Since you can’t possibly pass or fail a college interview, don’t be nervous! Just make some basic preparations and remember some simple manners before going in. Because your interviewer should be treated with respect at all times, you should demonstrate that by dressing nicely. Avoid casual clothing and messy hair. ALWAYS be on time. If you have any doubts of your ability to be timely, arrive early; make a great first impression. When you speak to the interviewer, remember to be polite, respond conversationally, and to be yourself. Never try to be someone you are not, because usually it doesn’t end well. Lastly, be confident, but not arrogant. Present yourself well, but don’t push it over the limits. With these tips, your interview will start and end well!
We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful in your college application process. Remember that many people are involved in the process- teachers, guidance councilors, admissions officers, and interviewers. Be sure to respect their time and energy, and you can’t go wrong. Next month, we’ll finish our three-part blog on colleges with a discussion on how to select classes that play off of the skills you have learned through TSA. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, be sure to post them below!
Jae-Young Son, State President