Spreadsheets and scholarships

Students apply for their next step in life


Senior Renée Rivera poses in front of Clemson University. She toured the school this summer.

Let’s face it, the college application process can be stressful. Testing and tuition fees only add to the hassle of transitioning from high school to college, while still trying to graduate. Applying to college is not easy, but tools and tips can help get you through the process.

1- Before applying, it is important to get organized. Make a list of each college you are considering applying to, along with the fees and due dates to make it easier to track everything. Senior Renèe Rivera wanted to organize all of the details that go into each application, so she used Microsoft Excel to make a list of the colleges she wanted to apply to.

“I’ve always used them to organize a lot of confusing information,” Rivera said. “I have the vertical columns labeled with college names and the horizontal columns with test scores, due dates, and school size.”

Microsoft Excel is a great program to organize each college and its requirements, but senior Allison Ostarly preferred to make mental notes instead for each due date.

2- Colleges and universities also put crucial information online, so make sure to read college websites for places you are applying. Information about housing, requirements, and financial aid are all readily available. People who are on the ball take advantage of this so they know what is going on. Websites are also great for confirming requirements and essay topics, since schools vary.

“[The] University of Richmond’s essay prompt was unusual. It asked us to tell them about spiders,” Rivera said. 

3- Scholarship research is critical as well. They exist for almost anything, from being a certain race to being left-handed. Applying for multiple grants increases the chance of earning money for tuition. Even small ones help out, and they can add up.

“It’s free money and it’s just out there,” senior Jared Sparrell said. “You should do it as soon as possible because for most of them it’s first come first serve.”

Due to the abundance of opportunities for tuition money, Sparrell has gone on a few websites that organize scholarships by the person’s individual data. This way, he can apply to the ones that fit him best without spending numerous hours searching for grants.

4- Every college requires standardized testing. Even though most dread it, it has to get done. This is a major piece of college acceptance or rejection.

Sparrell recommends taking the SAT/ACT at the end of sophomore year in order to have time to take multiple tests.

While some students jump into the testing world at the start of their high school career, others like to wait. Senior Caterina Recine waited to take the SAT/ACT to learn what she needed to be successful.

“The start of your junior year is a good time to begin taking the tests because by then, you’ve been exposed to enough knowledge to be well prepared,” Recine said.

5- Time management is key when making the college process as stress-free as possible. Senior year is already hectic with club meetings, senior activities, and graduation requirements, so do not start the night before it is due. Senior Abby Smith spaced out her applications so she would not be overwhelmed.

“I started it early so I would have a better chance of being accepted,” Smith said.

6-At the end of the day, do not worry about choosing a major just yet. Even students accepted into top schools like Harvard or Yale go into their freshman year undecided. While it is important to think about potential careers ahead of time, academic changes are common during the first few years of college.

“Part of the journey in college is to find your interests and make a living out of it, so apply with an open mind,” Recine said.