The Crown

Shaping your Future

Alexis Potash, Crown writer and photographer

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With the stress from high school weighing on the shoulders of students can make the idea of applying for college, and scholarships extremely daunting. Planning for the future should be exciting, but it is necessary to account for everything that comes with that. Searching for a college, reviewing the requirements, essay writing, and the cost are all factors in the planning of the future.

New counselor Jim Stamatakos is at Marian to guide students when it comes to college, and all that comes with it. Senior Lauren Foster said that “Having Mr. Stamatakos here has been helpful in that he helped me with a start which sparked the beginning to my college search.” Stamatakos is very knowledgeable, and worked in admissions of St. Norbert’s prior coming to Marian. When asked when the preparation starts for college, Stamatakos indicated, “Many people think that Junior year is when the college search starts…but that’s really “Phase 2” of a much larger process. Preparation really starts in freshman year. The most important things that underclass students need to focus on are:  Remembering that their grades follow them through their high school careers. As well as finding things they’re passionate about becoming involved with. Colleges don’t want to see that students have done lots of things without committing wholly to any of them…they want to see students who’ve done fewer things with more involvement in those things over the long term. Joining some school-related clubs, doing community service at a specific site on a regular basis for, say, 20 hours/semester, or even getting a job during the school year are all great steps in that direction.”  When in the search for a school it is necessary to review the requirements for admission. Senior Maureen Keisling said, “It is a daunting task to look back and hope that the work done during your time in high school is what you need to get into that dream school.”  

This ties in with the application plan of a safety school, some in-between schools, as well as a reach school. A safety school is a safe plan with almost guaranteed admissions. In-between schools are when the student meets the average requirements. A reach school is a school where the student may be average or fall below the requirements, resulting in a lower chance of admission. Trying to place schools in these categories can be difficult. When the time comes to start applying, the essay soon comes into play. Often the essay is the only space on the application to share the unique things about the student other than grades. On the topic of essays, Mr. Stamatakos said, “A good college essay doesn’t trumpet a student’s accomplishments…a good essay gives an admission officer a look into an applicant’s everyday life.” He also used an example to express this thought, and to further express what an admissions officer is looking for within the essay, “An essay about a week spent building a schoolhouse for impoverished children in Belize for one week each year may seem like something that a student thinks a college wants to hear, but what an admission officer wants to read a story about instead is a story about how a student loves to scour his or her neighborhood looking for old furniture people are throwing away so the student can restore it…not to sell it for a profit but just because he/she enjoys restoring old furniture.” Based on the information given by Mr. Stamatakos in the sense of essays it is more rewarding to make a conversation rather than a story.

The biggest concern for most students when applying is cost. College is expensive, and often makes the parameters of searching for a college smaller. Taking into consideration financial aid, academic scholarships, sports scholarships essentially anything the school is willing to give, often cannot be enough. Some students are forced to take out loans and can be extremely annoying in the future. After the admission process, the next step usually is financial aid applications. Mr. Stamatakos said, “Applying for financial aid is fundamentally different from applying for admission because of what’s being evaluated in the two processes. In the financial aid application process, a student’s (and the student’s family’s) financial need is being evaluated. Financial aid applications like the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will estimate the dollar amount that a student’s family can contribute to his/her education over the course of the upcoming academic year. A number called the “EFC” (Expected/Estimated Family Contribution) is calculated, using data that a family puts into the financial aid application from federal tax returns.” Scholarships are also a viable option toward paying for college and can be influential when it comes to making a decision. Mr. Stamatakos advice when it comes to scholarships is to, “The best place to start looking for scholarship money is a school itself. The next places to look for scholarships are within a student’s local community. These scholarships are competitive, worthless money, and may not be renewable for all four years like the scholarships colleges can award, however. But starting local puts a student in a field with less competition than they would be if applying for state or national awards, which draw thousands of applicants and are super competitive to win.” Cost is a huge factor when it comes to college, and having the correct information, and the knowledge of all the viable options to make the most efficient decisions.

College is an exciting thing to look forward too, but also concerns a lot of details that must be taken into consideration. Mr. Stamatakos, who has an office in guidance, is a great resource when thinking about college. Searching for a college, reviewing the requirements, essay writing, and the cost is all factors in the planning, but with hard work, and a little help it can certainly be done.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Shaping your Future”

  1. Edward L. Oriole on November 6th, 2018 11:10 am

    Ms. Potash delivers an insightful assessment of the college application process. This is valuable information for her classmates and classmate’s family. Her critical thinking skill coupled with an ability to tolerate uncertainty is demonstrated. This will serve her well in her academic and personal life. Best wishes to Alexis and her classmates.

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