TREASURE COAST - With most college applications soon due, career coaching specialist Hafeez Lakhani, founder of Lakhani Coaching, has shared tips to help high school seniors and their parents navigate the highly stressful final month before most college applications are due.
Mr. Lakhani advises students to begin thinking about their careers as high school sophomores or even freshman, and to prepare an action plan during the early part of junior. For those students who begin to think about college late junior year, the process becomes pressure packed.
“Many students don’t really start to think about the process until they sit for the SAT or ACT that first time as a junior, often as late as May,” Mr. Lakhani said. “This inevitably creates a crunchtime scramble, beginning in late November.”
For those students currently in the college search, Mr. Lakhani’s offers these tips:
1) Finalize a visit list right away. December is a great time for final college visits. It’s best to visit when students are on campus. Visiting during the week is even better—prospective students can attend a class and see the campus in full swing.
2) Schedule information sessions and tours well in advance of your visit. They fill up this time of year. If possible, also request an on-campus interview, which is a great way to show the school your interest and share why you see yourself as a great candidate. If sessions and tours are filled up at campuses you’d like to visit, ask the admissions office if they can squeeze one more person in or if they can pair you up with a student to show you around. If that doesn’t work, read up on the campus and plan your own tour. Don’t be shy about approaching students with questions or sitting in on a class. You can call the department to find out what classes are meeting when you’ll be on campus.
3) If you'll apply for financial aid, don't let that impede your list. Now is the time to apply widely and think about where you will thrive. Be sure to include on your list both state schools (more affordable) and private colleges. Let both know you will apply for financial aid. Once you are admitted, that is the time to weigh your options with financial considerations.
4) Speak to your school counselor about in-state scholarships and potential automatic admissions available to you for academic excellence, such as the Florida Bright Futures program.
5) Get two teacher and a counselor recommendation requests lined up. Spend a few hours working on a bio and resume to present to each person, so he or she can learn more about you, what interests you about college, and a glimpse at what your application will look like. In that personal bio, also mention two or three sentences about your most memorable experience working with that teacher/advisor. Mr. Lakhani also encourages one recommendation from a non-academic advisor who has seen you work at your best. This can be an athletic coach, a debate advisor, an art mentor, or a leader in your community.
4) Get busy drafting college essays, remembering what Hemingway said: Every writer should burn his first novel. Spend time writing and re-writing so you can "excavate" the true gems from your experiences.
5) If you are applying for Financial Aid, once your applications are submitted, begin to work on the financial aid application. Even if you think you won’t qualify for aid, you’d be surprised at how generous some schools will be. The forms are straightforward and worth filling out.
“There is no substitute for getting ahead of the process by creating a timeline early,” Mr. Lakhani says.