October is National College Application Month and Iowa is joining in the celebration with the annual Iowa College Application Campaign. Both programs aim to encourage and empower students to take the time to complete at least one application to a college or university during the regular school day.
For many students, especially first-generation students, filling out college applications during school allows them to get answers on related questions that they might not be able to find on their own. In honor of the Iowa College Application Campaign, we’re talking with representatives from high schools, colleges and even families who have recently gone through the college application process with their student to share their advice for those students and families completing college applications for the first time.
Greg Fisher, Principal and Athletic Director at Belmond-Klemme High School in Belmond, IA, suggests that before completing any applications that students research and target those schools that will best meet their needs. “College fit” describes that connection between student and school that can make a significant difference in whether a student succeeds or transfers to another school (or worse, drops out of college altogether).
Fisher discusses what he tells his students when they consider college applications:
When discussing college applications with students, I feel students need to do a thorough job of researching institutions of interest to them. I talk with them about determining if the institutions offer specific academic programs in which they have a strong interest. I ask the students to spend time looking for social aspects that will allow excellent opportunities for them to enjoy the campus and or college life.
I want the students to choose several schools, which are high on their lists and make out applications to those institutions. With the competition to get accepted into colleges, or acceptance into specific college programs, and with the awarding of scholarships at a highly competitive level for today’s high school students, it is important that a student give themselves options as they proceed through the application process. For a student to limit themself to a single school/program could result in the student scrambling late in the process if their original plan doesn’t work out.