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Getting a Competitive Edge on College Applications

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Locust Valley High School seniors are being exposed to diverse colleges and universities through college fairs and individual college visits. Through the fairs, students may speak with representatives from many colleges in one day, asking them questions about campus life, admissions and more, while also making personal connections with the representatives. Individual college visits offer the students a more in-depth look at one particular school. Both scenarios assist college-bound students in determining what type of schools they want to consider, and provide them with inside information about the college, which would then give them valuable insight into whether or not that college would be a good fit.

Assistant principal Michelle Villa said the counselors work to bring as many experiences to the school as possible, to give juniors and seniors the greatest advantage in not only choosing the right schools for them, but also to give them exposure to the representatives who can give them tips on applying and on succeeding once enrolled. Recently, during a small group visit with a representative from Georgetown University, six seniors learned that the school looks at the rigor of a high school student’s courses. Admissions officer John Rob said grades are important, but they prefer students who challenged themselves with the most rigorous courses offered at their high school. He added that while SAT subject tests are not required, candidates who have taken three subject tests are preferred.

Ms. Villa said hearing this information directly from a college representative helps students understand exactly what they need to do to put themselves in the best position to be considered for admission to the schools to which they wish to apply. “In a small group setting, college bound students can ask specific questions about how to stand out in that particular college’s application process,” Ms. Villa said. “They hear very detailed information on what each school prioritizes when reading those applications.”

Washington University in St. Louis admissions representative Kendall Marie Spina told a small group of seniors this fall that they want to know what kind of impact a student has made during his or her high school career. She also offered information about the specific academic programs offered as well as social life and financial aid. 

Ms. Spina said that applications received by Dec. 15 would get the most attention for both early decision and regular decision applicants. Students also learned in this information session that the university considers students’ supplemental essay responses when granting scholarships and also pays attention to how much interest a student has shown in the school prior to applying. Ms. Spina also shared valuable information about the school’s Greek life, intramural sports and other campus life activities.

Ms. Villa said she believes these visits not only help students prepare a more competitive application, but also helps them determine if a school is really the right place for them. “Our goal is not only to help our seniors get into college, but to help them choose the right school for them,” she said.