Counselor gives advice for after high school


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Seniors tour colleges across Texas

Iryna Hotsuliak, Reporter

The college application season has approached. Seniors are working on college admissions.
One of the options for assistance with the admissions process is to talk to a school counselor. Leslie Graham, high school counselor, shared her tips for college admissions.
This year, early admission will last until Dec. 1. She said the bigger the university, the earlier seniors should apply.
For finding the right college, Graham said students should definitely know and look for the program that is right for them. There are two approaches to it: consider the degree plan or choose a career field.
“It will help narrow down where you want to go because not every place offers the same programs,” Graham said. “Sometimes kids look for where they want to go based on where it’s located or a family tradition to go to that school.”
To apply for college, the student can either go directly to the college website and find the section on application forms, or use special platforms assigned for this.
“In the state of Texas for most public schools, you can use ApplyTexas,” Graham said. “The nice thing about ApplyTexas is that you make your first application and you’re able to just copy and paste it for different colleges and not to retype it every time.”
Some colleges require writing essays and some do not. In most cases, she said they will be mandatory in receiving financial aid. The teachers at the high school will also help seniors with proofreading their essays.
“The best piece of advice is to look at the prompt, answer the prompt and answer exactly what they ask you for,” Graham said. “And remember: the person who looks at it doesn’t know you, so make yourself stand out from the crowd.”
Graham said that teachers are ready to help the students with writing their recommendation letter for college. She added seniors should make sure they ask for help early by those who know the students well enough to give objective and extensive feedback.
“Also, you can provide that person with a list of all the extracurricular activities and competitions you have been involved in to make it really helpful for them,” Graham said.
A must-have on college tips list should be an in-person college visit. This is an opportunity to feel and realize how the next few years of life will pass and to get to know the location and people more closely.
A lot of colleges have rally days where they show many aspects of the campus.
“I absolutely recommend it because every campus has its own personality in a way and you can see how things operate,” Graham said. “I know students who have toured a college that they really wanted to go to and came back and said it didn’t feel right.”
Since the pandemic, a large number of colleges have been test-optional, which means they don’t require SAT/ACT scores for admissions. However, these tests are required to receive scholarships.
“We have APEX; we have access to some tutorial things through that,” Graham said. “And if somebody wants to get set up to be able to do some SAT/ACT APEX, all they have to do is to talk to me.”
On Oct. 18 the school hosted a college financial aid presentation given by Vernon College staff.
“Students are able to get some financial aid by filing for FAFSA. It opened on Oct. 1 for the season 2023-2024,” Graham said.
“This is your chance. Take action as soon as possible and get it.”