I just received my AP exam scores in the mail. I got a 3 in U.S. History but only a 1 in chemistry and physics. I realize that colleges are going to look at all of my scores, but if I did well in the actual class (high A’s to mid B’s), will the scores be a deciding factor for admission? Would I have been better to have just not taken those two exams, or are colleges going to appreciate the risk, even if the outcome was bad? Also, one specific college I am looking at for early decision only accepts 4’s and 5’s. Next year, should I only take the exams that I feel confident I can receive those scores in? I don’t want to take the exam for every AP class I take if it’s actually going to hurt me in the long run!
Colleges will give greater weight to your actual grades in the classes than to your AP scores, at least for admissions purposes. (Course placement is another matter, most colleges won’t give credit for anything below a 3.) Having said that, I would recommend taking only those AP exams you feel confident about in the future. It looks much better to have fewer, higher AP scores than a bunch of lower scores. In a nutshell, Don’t worry about the scores you’ve already received, but take only the exams you feel confident about this coming year.
If I am looking towards a career as an attorney and eventually moving into politics, should I take a double major in college? Some of the schools I am looking at don’t offer a pre-law program. What majors do future law students usually take as an undergraduate? Thank you for your help!
I don’t think a double major is necessary. The problem with double majors is that they don’t leave you much room to take other classes that interest you, you’re so busy fulfilling your major requirements that there’s no space left in your schedule. I also wouldn’t worry about applying to colleges that don’t have pre-law programs. There really aren’t any required undergraduate courses for law school, so the implication that a “pre-law” programs involves certain required courses isn’t correct. Common majors for law school applicants include political science, history, and English. However, you can have a completely different major. I encourage you to pick a major that excites you, although you don’t have to worry about this right away. The important thing is to do well in your undergraduate courses whatever major you choose.
I have a question about what the difference is between attending college in the Fall or in the Spring, with regards to classes, housing, graduation, and freshman orientation. Thank you.
I would refer you to individual colleges with this question. It may be harder at some schools to get the housing and classes you want if you start college in the spring. Then again, it might not be a problem. The one clear advantage to starting school in the fall is social: It’s much easier to meet people and make friends when everyone is new and in the same boat. Assuming you take the required course loads each semester, starting in the fall also means you’ll graduate with your classmates (which wouldn’t happen if you started in the spring, unless you took extra courses in future semesters).
I am currently a junior in high school, but I am also going to college full time and getting high school and college credits. I didn’t do so well in the college classes my first semester except for one class, but my high school grades were all A’s. I really want to go to a liberal arts school. My first choices are New York University and Berkley, but I don’t know what to do! Can you help me?
If you’re getting all A’s in high school then you’ll have a shot at going to NYU or Berkley. The colleges shouldn’t hold against you the grades you get in college courses. However, I would advise that you check with the colleges you’re interested in to make sure they will give you credit for the courses you’ve taken. Also, I would make getting good high school grades a priority, and, therefore, would suggest you not overburden your time commitment to the college courses.
Our 8th grade public school daughter has been doing EPGY math for a couple of years in lieu of our school curriculum. She likes it and the rigor of the course seems more suited to her math ability. Any info from colleges if she stays with EPGY through high school level courses (hence no math grade included in transcripts)? As she plans for hs classes, is a 4.0 in standard hs fare better than a high 3+ average in higher level classes?
EPGY isn’t going to be as well-known to some colleges as, say, AP math level classes, and although I’m not sure about this, I don’t think EPGY courses will be accepted for college credit. Obviously EPGY has a great reputation, though. Typically, a high 3+ in more challenging classes would fare better. If you get a 4.0/4.0, who’s to say what you were really capable of?
Thanks for offering such a candid guide for students and parents. My question concerns admission rates for out-of-state and out-of-country applicants. I’ve heard that Virginia universities, specifically UVA and William and Mary, have quotas for out-of-state applicants. The rumor is that they can only have 10% of the student body be non-residents. Is this true? Also, my daughter is very interested in McGill University in Montreal. We visited, and she plans to apply, but I can’t find information on her likelihood of admission (beyond the minimum grade and score requirements). I know McGill has become hot for Americans, partially due to the exchange rate, but how many Americans do they accept there each year? Is there a quota?
Public state schools such as UVA and William and Mary very definitely have quotas on in and out-of-state students, which are typically set by the state legislature. I really think this is fair. Residents of the state pay taxes to support these schools, and they should be the primary beneficiary of these efforts. I’m sorry I can’t be of help about McGill. My best advice is to call or email them, I’m sure they would give you the straight scoop.
I have noticed that some colleges report the percentage of first year students that do not return for their second year at that school. What is a normal percentage to expect? What does it mean to me when it is abnormally high or low?
Freshman retention and graduation rates are numbers that all colleges would have access to. In fact, colleges must report graduation rates as part of their requirements for federal financial assistance. Colleges like to see freshman retention in the 90% plus range. If a college reports a lower freshman retention, you should ask why, but don’t assume that a lower number is be a bad thing. Many colleges thrive on preparing students for transfer to other schools. These schools accept that as an important function, and they often do their jobs well. Larger, more prestigious schools have also come to accept the value of a transfer student, and over the years, have done much to ease the burden for students of transitions. Still, a highly selective college which can’t boast a graduation rate of 75% or more should be looked at carefully. And any college where you plan to stay until graduation that has a graduation rate under 50% should definitely generate more questions from you as to why.
I want to apply to Rutgers University in New Jersey. My mother lives in New Jersey, but I live in NY with friends so that I could finish my senior year. My mother will be paying for my college tuition. On my application, should I declare my mom’s address in NJ? Will I get the NJ in-state tuition cost?
If your mother is your legal guardian, and you are under 18, your permanent address is her home in New Jersey, and you would be considered a legal resident of New Jersey. For example, if I attended prep school in another state and then returned to my home state for college, I would not be considered a resident of my prep school state. It’s basically the same thing. I can’t imagine there being a disagreement over this, but to be sure, you should call the Rutgers admissions office and ask for a copy of their residency requirements. Every school has them.
I work at an alternative school engaged in the debate over having National Honor Society. To what degree would being in National Honor Society benefit students admission into the best colleges?
The National Honor Society is perhaps the most recognizable academic achievement award available to high school students. I believe that in our society today, student achievements need to be recognized in a positive way. Look at the attention we give our high school basketball stars compared to how we honor our academic achievers. Student participation in the National Honor Society is also a growth experience which helps the student develop a variety of skills including leadership and presence. Highly selective colleges look for these attributes. Thus, I can think of nothing but positive benefits to your school and its students for making such a program available.
Will participating in conservative Republican political causes hurt my chances of getting into a liberal Ivy League college?
OK, these are opinions, here, from the editors of FishNet since no admissions person is going to admit to this kind of discrimination. Frankly, colleges do look for “fit” and some activities (not just political ones) may not play well on an application. I think you have to think carefully about how you present such activities, if you present them all. For example, most political groups advocate some kind of restraint on government spending, but there are wide differences on how to get the job done. Still, you could play up your involvement in “controlling government spending” without saying you want to cut welfare to the bone. Hey, politicians do it all the time. You don’t want to distort your application, but think carefully about how the information about you will be construed. By the way, what makes you think Ivy League schools are liberal? You might be surprised at what you find.
I am a parent of a child in a middle school. I am planning to relocate to Atlanta. I am considering both public and private high schools for my child. I would like to find a high school with a good track record for getting students into selective colleges. Do you have any suggestions on how to do that without calling every school individually?
What’s the difference between universities and colleges?
Historically, universities offer both bachelor’s degree programs and graduate and doctoral degree programs. Colleges typically offer only bachelor’s degree programs. However, some colleges are also beginning to offer a few graduate programs.
I am a senior at one of the top schools in my state, which is actually one of the best in the nation. I take AP and honors classes, and I have taken AP and honors classes my previous years as well. I have a B+ average. I was in one club, in my junior year, which is no longer available to me, but I also have 3 part-time jobs and work every day after school. One of my jobs is in relation to my college major, while the other two are for financial support. I have about 90 community service hours as well. Will the lack of extracurriculars hurt me?
You should consider your jobs and community service as your extracurriculars. Don’t be afraid to list them all and describe them all on your college applications. Colleges understand that some students have special circumstances that prevent them from being in traditional after-school activities. In fact, you might even stand out because of your determination to support yourself financially and be involved in your community in your own specific ways. Good luck and don’t stress.
I am graduating with my bachelors degree in Sociology with a concentration in Human Services and a minor in Women’s Studies. I do not want to attend traditional grad school. My ideal plan would be to spend each semester in a new locale (Thailand, Mexico, Ukraine, etc.) doing service learning and taking classes to obtain a master’s degree. Have you ever heard of a program similar to that? Thank you!
I sure have heard of something like that. It’s called the Peace Corps! In reality that’s probably going to be the closest thing to what you’re speaking of, although you might not be traveling to a whole bunch of separate locations. Check out this link for information on how to obtain a master’s degree while you’re doing service overseas. Otherwise you may want to just focus on obtaining an online master’s degree while you’re traveling around to different places. There’s honestly not much out there for a “traveling master’s degree” as you’re speaking of, although there are a few opportunities for dual-degree, dual-host college programs.
Maybe your idea is an innovative higher education proposal for the future. Actually, for your master’s thesis you could maybe even propose developing a program like that (hint, hint).
I attended a four year university and was suspended for disciplinary probation for two semesters. In the meantime, I attended the community college close by and never reapplied to the four-year, which would have lifted the suspension. I did terribly academically in both schools, but now that I’ve regrouped, I want to start over in another state and start again at a four year college. However, before I fill out any applications, I need to know (as though I just seemed to have taken two years off after high school) whether or not the college I apply to will find out 1) that I’ve attended other colleges, 2) that I was put on academic probation, and 3) that I was suspended for disciplinary probation. Couldn’t I just apply with my high school transcripts and they’d never know?
No. You should always tell the truth! It will come back to you sooner or later if you try to cover up information. (Please see the previous question I answered on our website.) You say, “I’ve regrouped.” Well, you must prove it by being honest.
Instead, you may want to ask your preferred institution about academic renewal (some schools offer programs by which you start with a “clean slate” after a certain amount of time has passed). The admissions officers and you may decide together whether that option is a path worth pursuing. You should also inquire into whether your past school and new school have any sort of academic forgiveness policy that you could apply to your situation. But again, I repeat: Do not lie on your application. That does not start you off with a good reputation, and if you are caught, any admission you gain could easily be revoked.
How do you apply for international colleges? Are international harder to get into?
Thanks for your question. Luckily, the answer is pretty straightforward. If you’re going to college overseas, you will be considered an “international student.”
Now, for each international school you are thinking of applying to, check to see if there is a specific application for international students (this is typically online, or you can contact the school for an application by mail). If there is no separate international application, then fill out a traditional application and mark it accordingly or write in that you are an international applicant. If you are accepted, a bonus could be that you might get specific kinds of financial aid or scholarships that are doled out only to international students.
Now for the second part of your question: Are international colleges harder to get into? Not necessarily…well, of course, unless you’re hoping to get into Oxford or Cambridge or one of the other top-ranked-in-the-whole-world universities. Again, it just depends on the school. Some schools reserve spots specifically for international students. Others admit everyone based on their academic merit, no matter where they are from. Your best bet in every case is to check with each university specifically. Or check with your high school adviser or even the Office of International Study at a nearby college.
Keep in mind that a wonderful option is to do a long-term study abroad program through a U.S. college. A lot of times it’s easier than just applying straight to an international school, because the U.S. “home” college will help you get to the country, find a place to live, sometimes provide language tutoring, and provide you with various other forms of support (instead of you just trying to put all the details together on your own). Good luck as you explore your options.
If I apply to a new college…can that new college find out if I don’t list ALL the colleges that I was at previously? I am an undergraduate transferring from a technical college to a university now. But before the technical college I attended a private university. Unfortunately, I could not afford the school, and I was booted out. Due to monetary problems, I still cannot pay them the hefty amount that I owe…but I do know I still have that bill. I assume this would be read into as leaving a college in bad standing (when it is asked on college applications)…? Do they check?
That is a good assumption to make. In college admissions, as in life, remember that telling the truth is important! If you are asked to list all the colleges you have attended previously, then by all means, list all the colleges you have attended previously! You should always assume that this new institution will be able to obtain the list of colleges you’ve previously attended, so you should probably just provide them that list. I also cannot suggest to you enough that you take every measure to pay off your old bill as soon as humanly possible. Get a second job, raise money, contact the finance/accounts office at your previous institution and beg for mercy as well as for help constructing a plan to pay that tuition. They will certainly want to assist you in recovering their debt. Chances are they’re going to hold your transcripts until you pay up anyway, and greater chances are they’re charging you interest by the month, so what are you waiting for?
I’m currently in the Army and I’m serving in Iraq. I’ve been debating on getting out, but I’m leaning more toward staying in. Even if I decide to stay in, I still want to have a plan to fall back on. You never know with today’s military and the circumstances we are in. My dilemma is that with me being in the military and being only 19 years old, I have no idea as to what I would want to do outside of the military. I have no hidden talents, no work experience, and no idea as to what I’m good at. All I know is that I’ve been in the military going on 3 years, and I’ve adapted to it. Are there any suggestions as to what I should look into?
Thanks for your question! It sounds to me like you do appreciate your experience in the military and could certainly stay longer if you decide that. You can certainly succeed if you do that, there are plenty of continuing job opportunities for those who have entered and seem to be a good fit in the service for the long haul.
Now, I noticed you mentioned this: “I have no hidden talents, no work experience, and no idea as to what I’m good at.” What I would like you to consider is that you probably DO have talents that you don’t realize, and you do have work experience as it relates to the military. What are your main jobs on a day-to-day basis? What was your favorite part of your boot camp training?–your first months in the military? What parts did you excel at? Which came more easily to you? That might be a first step to figuring out the kinds of things you prefer to do or study.
Another thing I suggest you do is to think back to when you were a kid. What activities would you do that seemed to make time go by really fast? Did you love dinosaurs? Sports? Drawing? What subjects in school just flew by (as opposed to the classes where you stared at the clock every three minutes)? That is another key to unlocking what you enjoy and are good at. Think about projects you worked on that you were proud of, or times when you felt like you accomplished something big. All these are clues for you to think about.
I hope that gives you a start. Thank you very much for serving in the military, and I wish you all the best in your future inside or outside the service.
When I get to college, I don’t know if I should live on or off-campus. My mom says it would be good for me to live in the dorms, but then my dad says that wherever I go to college, we are all going to move to that location as a family so I could live at home if I want. And sometimes I think I might be able to study more efficiently at the dorms, but I am scared to live in them with some random roommate that I have never meet before in my life. I just don’t know what to do.
I’m going to say “Give it a shot.” You may end up loving your roommate, and even if you don’t, the dorm life is such that you’ll meet a lot of diverse people that will help you connect into your college life. The truth is that most students are nervous about sharing a room with a random person. It’s not just you. I was exactly the same way myself. But most of the richness of the personal relationships I developed (which happened to include my roommate) during my own time at college were initiated through living in the dorms. Now, of course, don’t be stupid about living in the dorms. There are a lot of young people in the dorms that are succumbing to peer pressure and just plain unwise choices. Find a group of people that will stick with you in having fun in creative and healthful ways. And one more tip: You may eventually find that it’s most efficient of all to study in the library!
I currently go to a public high school in Northern Virginia, where the “advanced” classes are pre-IB and IB (International Baccalaureate). I’m going into my sophomore year and taking all advanced classes. The problem is, I’m moving after this year. It will almost definitely be out of state, and most likely not an IB school. How will it affect my chances of getting into a top school if my high school transcript is mixed like that? If the effects are negative, what can I do to prevent or make up for it?
Thanks for this great question. Most schools in the country actually offer either IB or AP (Advanced Placement) classes. Make sure that you inquire with your new school about taking any AP classes offered, since that’s typically the equivalent of taking IB classes. Chances are that the new school will offer advanced courses. Also, check with your new school (or have your parent or guardian check for you) as to whether you need to convert your IB grades for your transcript at your new school. A lot of times, advanced courses can also contribute to a weighted GPA, so check on that as well.
A note about “pre-IB”…you might want to note on your transcripts that “pre-IB” courses are also advanced courses (and note that in your college applications as well, if you’d like). Or you may want to obtain a statement from your current school explaining the advanced nature of those courses.
In the end, I really wouldn’t worry too much about having a mixed transcript or transcripts from two schools. It is a fairly common experience. But again, check with the new school to see if your old transcript needs to be converted, or if you can keep your transcript “mixed” and just send both transcripts to colleges when the time comes.
I am about to be a junior in high school. I am a smart student. I am in the top quarter of my class but am not in the top 10%. In 7th grade I became very ill, and since then I have been unable to attend school. I am being taught by district teachers at home. My grades have not suffered, but because of my illness I have been unable to become involved with in-school or out-of-school extracurricular activities. I know I will be able to write killer essays, and I will have good SAT scores and glowing recommendations. But I am really worried that my lack of extracurriculars will prevent me form getting into a great college such as A&M. Is there anything I can do to somehow explain my situation (and my lack of extracurriculars) so that it doesn’t hurt my chances? I am at a loss as to what to do here.
You know what? I think you should consider writing your college application essay about your unique situation. That way you will not only 1) explain the extenuating circumstances as to why you can’t participate in a lot of activities, but 2) you’ll also be setting yourself apart as an individual from other students who attend traditional school. Think about what obstacles you’ve had to overcome as a result of your illness. Think about how your schooling situation has shaped who you are and changed the nature of your character and of your relationships. What’s been good? What’s been bad? How have you grown and changed? What do you care about now? Tell a story. I think this situation could possibly work in your favor even when right now it seems to be a liability. So take heart! I do hope that gives you a start. Congratulations on your accomplishments in the face of your illness. That shows spirit and determination. Run with it. I wish you all the best.
I’m thinking about going to college online. Is that a good idea or bad? Will it be the same for me to be able to get a good job after I graduate as it would if I went to a campus, or will it be a lot harder because my education wasn’t in a classroom?
Now that’s a question that’s debated quite a bit (see this New York Times discussion, for example). And it doesn’t help that statistics fall all across the board in terms of job success. Well, I was an in-person on-campus college attendee, myself. It worked for me, because I learn best by surrounding myself with a community of other learners. But it may not be the same for you. It really comes down to what you value.
Are you working a job? If so, an online degree program (or attending college at night) might be more efficient for you.
Otherwise, what are your reasons for considering an online education? If it’s because you’re very introverted, you may want to consider whether you’ll need extraverted social skills or specific leadership skills in the future for whatever job you want to pursue…in which case, you may want to attend college on campus to learn those skills better.
Or perhaps you’re simply thinking about the financial differences. Online colleges can certainly be more economical, so be sure to toss that into the mix of factors that help you make your decision.
As far as your question about whether jobs are better available for traditional campus graduates…well, the short answer is, it depends. Truly determined people who take the initiative can make an online education work well for them.
That’s why I would urge you to know yourself. Consider whether you have the traits of a successful distance learner before you make your final decisions, and consider whether you are the right personality fit to make an education like that work for you in the long run. I tend to believe it’s more up to you and your work ethic than it is the type of education you pursue. Hope this gives you a little something to go on.
I have been heavily involved in drama in high school. I also constantly read literature to help me gain an understanding of my characters. Can I list “reading” as an extracurricular activity? I spend several hours a week reading great books.
I suggest that instead of simply listing it as an extracurricular activity, you might want to discuss reading in your personal essay or another “personal interests” part of your application. Explain how reading lends itself to critical thinking and deeper understanding of the characters you portray through your acting. I think that might fly a little bit better than the option you suggested. If you can point to a literary club or book club or other reading group you may have participated in (or helped start) during your high school career–even an informal one–then so much the better. Other than that, I suggest you work to highlight how the amount of reading you do makes you unique among other high school students these days. I think you can find ways to bring that out (other than just listing it as an extracurricular without any other explanation). Happy reading…writing…acting…and applying.
Guru…I have been out of school for nearly two years now and need help trying to find a good college to attend. I enrolled in our local community college immediately after graduating high school, but I ended up having a lot of responsibility fall on me just a week after starting school. Since then I’ve been the sole provider for my mother and two sisters. Dropping out was heartbreaking but necessary. My second attempt at a local college failed in the same amount of time. It’s been two years and I’m now 19 years old, working hard to support my family, but I feel like there is no future for a guy like me. I work in a warehouse, my job requires all employees to work overtime. So even though my shift is eight hours a day, five days a week, I usually work 10 to 13 hours a day, five days a week – with some overtime on Saturdays as well. The reason I need some help with school is because I’m usually exhausted whenever I’m not working, both physically and mentally. Some people have recommended online colleges, but the prices are ridiculous. I have a better chance at reaching the stars considering my family depends on me for all of our financial and emotional support. Life has been hard, paycheck to paycheck, topped off with depression and exhaustion. I live in Southern California if it helps at all with suggestions…I’m interested in Technology and Media (Graphic Arts). Advice?
Thanks so much for writing me. And you should be proud of the support you provide for your family. Here’s what I wondered: Now that it’s been two years, have you been able to reflect on why you had to drop out the first couple of times? What factors contributed to that? Was it mainly family issues, and if you started again that would be less of a struggle? Or were there other factors that affected your school record, such as lack of support from friends, or poor study habits, or financial or relationship stress?
I think your first step should be to figure out how to counteract the factors that contributed to dropping out last time. Find a friend or a peer or a trusted older person who can hold you accountable to follow through on applying to school again – and once in school, to continue to study and to work hard. Is there a person that you can trust to do that for you? You say that you are providing emotional support for your family, but is there anyone providing emotional support for you?
Now about your question, more specifically. My feeling is that you could try the same schools again if they would give you another shot, depending on where you live, etc. If you return to a school and succeed a second time, that looks really good to four-year colleges. Not that I’m saying you can’t apply directly to a four-year school, of course! But since you need to send ALL transcripts you have, including college transcripts, it might be a good option to return to a school you dropped out of and really turn things around first.
Is there any way you can get a job that doesn’t require you to work so much overtime? That will really help you with school options. Check around to see. You may even want to think about helping in a place where you could pick up some technology and graphic arts skills just on the side, since that is the field you’re interested in studying.
I agree with you that online school can sometimes be pretty pricey, and although I don’t personally know all of your individual circumstances, I am guessing that you might not have the support of classmates and professors to really keep you going. I’d suggest looking at the colleges around you first, especially if you have to continue supporting the rest of your family. Thanks again for writing me, and please consider my advice to find someone you can trust to help you along in the process of going back to school.
Hi, I just completed my first year in high school, and I will be a sophomore next year. I’m involved in a few clubs, and I’m a debate captain in my debate club at school. This summer I will be volunteering at a hospital and a nursing home. Next year I will be doing Go team, French and math honor society, French club, the multicultural club and stay with the debate team. For my first year in high school in the IB program, I have gotten straight A’s, and I’m well liked by my teachers. My only concern is that I’m not doing anything special and that I’m not going to stick out for colleges. I was born in a foreign and fairly poor country, and I was thinking that next year if it would be good idea to raise money and sponsor the school in my native country that I came from. I know that there are schools in my native country that are sponsored by schools in the U.S., and they raise money and donate to schools in these poor countries. Would it be a good idea to start something like this? And how exactly do I go around starting something like this?
Of course you could start something like that. It would be for a wonderful cause. I would suggest the first thing to do is talk to a teacher that you trust about it. Every school organization usually needs an adviser who is a teacher willing to help out the organization and provide resources. See if you can find a teacher who will back you on this, and then they can help you figure out how to draw up some plans for the organization and present it to a school committee or one of the principals or vice principals.
You might also want to write down a few stories about growing up in your home country and how you saw other schools that were sponsored by U.S. schools changing (hopefully for the better). Students your age want to help people in other countries, I believe there is an awareness among teenagers about the poverty in the world like there has never been before, partly due to the Internet. Sharing your own story might only strengthen that awareness. If you can do something to help the school that you came from and encourage your fellow classmates to come along for the ride, that would be a great thing. And yes, it might help you stand out a bit to colleges, but I think the most important thing you’d gain is the satisfaction of making a difference in the culture you came from.
I’m currently serving the United States Marine Corps and will be separating in May of 2012. I will be using the Post 9/11 G.I. bill benefits to attend college. I’m not sure of what should I be doing besides looking for the right school, or where to start, since I have been out of high school for almost 4 years now. I have the idea of attending a community college for 2 years and transferring to a main university. I’m looking to major in video game design, computer engineering and possibly minor in exercise physiology. What should I be doing now for acceptance to a community college and, furthermore, should I be taking the ACT/SAT for submission as well?
Congratulations! The GI Bill can certainly pay off – it will pay all your tuition and fees for a public school or pay private school costs up to $17,500, as well as providing allowances for housing and textbooks. I suggest the first thing you do is to read through the stipulations of the bill carefully. The GI Bill is being adapted and adjusted as I write. Some changes to the benefits just went into effect in August, some will go into effect in October. Keep checking and rechecking the website for updates, or solicit help from one of your supervisors.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to contact some of the community schools you’re interested in applying to and ask them very specifically if the GI Bill benefits will apply to you if you decide to transfer to a four-year university. Some schools might refuse tuition assistance if you take ineligible courses or if you transfer, so you might want to be thorough when checking exactly where your GI Bill benefits apply. So I suggest you ask for help from schools you’re interested in and also get some help from a GI counselor or education adviser. That’s really going to be your best bet – there should be military that are prepared to advise and help you with this next step. Perhaps there are seminars and sessions that help military navigate the confusion of the GI Bill. See if such a meeting is offered on your base in the near future.
There is also a whole page devoted to GI educational resources to help you out: taking the SAT/ACT, choosing an eligible school, etc. Definitely use these resources. Definitely download and read the guide found at the top of that page! These resources will help you choose the right school and figure out what to do about test-taking.
Also, have you thought about trying to get into a four-year university right away instead of a community college? Or a technical college that specializes in video game design? The new bill is specifically adjusted to help veterans get into four-year colleges – you might want to take advantage of that. There’s no reason not to look at these options…especially if you have been doing well in your military career and work hard to study for the ACT/SAT. It could be a really good way to go and definitely spares you the hassle of trying to transfer your credits and/or benefits.
Whatever you decide, I wish you the best and thank you for your service.
My parents are divorced and I live with my mom in Washington. However, my dad owns a house in Virginia and pays taxes in Virginia, so would I be eligible for in-state tuition at William and Mary or University of Virginia?
That’s a great question. According to the University of Virginia website breaking down the state government policy regarding “Virginia domicile,” you may be eligible for in-state tuition if your father has lived in Virginia for a year or more. Here’s the response from the website:
Q: If my parents are divorced am I eligible for in-state educational privileges if I live outside of Virginia and my non-custodial parent lives in Virginia?
A: Yes, if the non-custodial parent contributes substantially to your support and is domiciled in Virginia.
I suggest you read the website for more specific information about how to obtain in-state tuition, however. And once you apply to schools, you should certainly check with their admissions officers to be safe. Good luck.
I’m a freshmen in high school. I don’t understand how college works. Do I really get to take whatever classes I want? When I apply, does community service really matter? Will I need to know a major when I apply? And, can I double major or even have two majors and a minor?
I think it’s great that you’re already contemplating these questions early in your high school career. Here are a few answers: Each school is different. Some allow double majors, while some only allow a major and a minor. It depends on where you apply and attend, and you’ll research these kinds of considerations while you’re considering schools later in your high school career. Once admitted, you’ll be able to pick a select number of classes called electives. You’ll also have to complete a core curriculum of classes required of every graduating student. While community service isn’t necessarily required, extracurricular activities are definitely needed to help you stand out as a good candidate for college. Schools want students who will do more than just attend class. Getting involved in the campus community is crucial. It’s important to think less about the “amount” of activities you pursue, and more about the quality of engagement in each one. For example, if you become the captain of a sports team or the president of a leadership club, this speaks more to your strengths and ambitions than joining four or five clubs and just attending once every few weeks. Think about what you might be interested in pursuing as a career, and then match up extracurricular activities to these pursuits. You could volunteer at a hospital, tutor younger students in an array of subjects, or even get an internship or volunteer job at an animal hospital, non-profit, or other business. The sky is the limit, so ask around and see what opportunities are available. Good luck!
I am a 26-year-old recent veteran. I graduated high school with a very low GPA (1.8) and went to two different community colleges and dropped out with no credits. I believe I dropped classes at both institutions before the cutoff that would affect my GPA, but I am not 100% certain. I am wondering if there is an easy way to find out whether I have an existing college GPA and what process to take to enroll in a four-year degree program (even if I need to take CC classes). Obviously, I’ve got the GI Bill and VA to help with guidance, I’m just curious as to what kind of advice you may have to offer.
Good question. The most efficient way to find out the amount of credits you’ve taken (if they’ve recorded any) and your GPA (also if recorded) is simply to contact the admissions offices of these two schools you attended after high school. That might feel a bit nerve-wracking to you, but it’s really not a huge deal. You can simply ask them whether they recorded any credits or GPA on your transcript. In fact, you could ask both schools for a copy of your transcript(s) if you want to do that. Then you’ll have that knowledge right at your fingertips for future applications.
Either way, you’ll have to record every institution you’ve attended even if you’ve dropped out. If you try to hide that fact, future colleges you apply to have ways of finding out and revoking or refusing your admission. (A side note: You may not have had any intention of doing that — but I wanted to make sure, since I receive many questions from people who think they can leave past colleges attended off their applications. Applicants just cannot do that. No college wants to admit a person who isn’t honest.)
Now, as far as choosing and applying to colleges, if you have a preferred area or school, go ahead and apply around. You might be admitted to a four-year college on a provisional basis, meaning that if you complete your first classes with good grades you will be officially accepted later on. Or you can apply to some community colleges again and work up a good “track record” so that you can transfer to a four-year university after a year or two. The most straightforward way to begin applying is simply to check the websites of the different colleges you are interested in and follow their instructions for application. Your VA associates should also be able to help you with that process, as you mentioned.
Keep in mind that you need to make sure the schools you are applying to comply with the provisions of the GI Bill or that the particular classes you decide to take are covered. For instance, a MCG blog post earlier this year spotlighted a school which offers an engineering track for military members. But whatever school you choose, you certainly want to make sure your courses will be covered financially by the bill. If you’re not sure, ask each school’s admissions office, and ask your VA staff for help on that too.
Congratulations on your decision to return to school, and thank you for your service. All the best.
My son would have attended three different high schools in three year once this year has been completed. He had been residing in Italy with his father, who is in the military, but he had to come back to the States after completing 9th grade due to a change in his father’s schedule. At such short notice, he attended a public school for tenth grade, but it didn’t have well-established curriculum and honor classes. Now he attends a parochial school for eleventh grade, which has honors and more extracurricular activities. I am struggling to pay the tuition, and he may have the opportunity to go to one of the top academic high schools on the East Coast on scholarship for 12th grade. But I am worried about how that is going to look on his transcripts and to potential colleges like the Ivy Leagues, which he wants to go to. Is it okay for him to keep changing schools?
If your son is doing well at the parochial school, he may well want to stay there since they have honors colleges and extracurricular activities. But given your financial struggles, I also don’t think it would hurt him to attend one of the top academic high schools, assuming he’s confident he can do at least as well as he’s doing now. The main thing that colleges will see first is that he graduated from this top school, along with his GPA. And, while he shouldn’t slack off in his senior year, only his first semester’s grades will have the most importance. I would make sure, of course, that all of the credits transfer from school to school.
I also think your son’s story, in either case, will make good essay material. He didn’t switch schools just on a whim but instead because of circumstances beyond his control. It sounds like he has an interesting story to tell about being in Italy with his dad and how he had to travel and adapt to different situations. Also, if he switches schools again, he can be forthright and say it was because of the economy and the school had become unaffordable. I think going through all of these experiences can show him to be a resilient person who overcame the challenge of changing schools – which is difficult for students in high school from both an academic and social standpoint.
Hello. I am a concerned parent to a Freshman student. My daughter has always struggled in school. Now that she is in high school I’m especially worried over her not doing well enough to get into a decent college. She says she wants to be a physiologist and I have tried my best to encourage, support and reward all her efforts. Please, can you help me with any ideas on how I can help my daughter do better. When I try to talk with her, she shuts down and gets upset. I just want to know I’m doing all I can to help her, but I don’t know how if she doesn’t open up about it.
This is a great question, and I’m sure many parents struggle with the same dilemma. You want to encourage your daughter toward her dream, but you are also realistic and knowledgeable about what it will take to get there. It’s helpful to understand that your daughter may feel ashamed or insecure about her poor performance in school, and this may cause her to shut down when you point out her need to improve. To strengthen her confidence, try focusing on her strengths instead of her weaknesses, and push her to use those strengths to accomplish goals. This may help avoid the feeling of being “fixed” that many students feel when a parents or teacher steps in and tries to push for improvement or change. The more you hand her the reins and give her full autonomy to work toward her goals, the more motivated she will become. Another good idea is to help her meet with a physiologist to talk about what the career entails. You could also suggest that she research the path of a physiologist and determine what concrete goals she needs to set in order to get there. Perhaps exploring this topic with her will help her understand that you’re on her team. Once she has a better understanding of the kind of work it will take and the career path, she may become more motivated to improve her grades and scores. Don’t give up, and remember to encourage rather than criticize whenever possible. Good luck!
Next year in eleventh grade, I can choose AP biology, a subject I like, or I can choose physics research, a class in which I will do a science project with a college mentor and enter science fairs during the year. This sounds interesting, but I’m afraid that I will lose my passion while doing the project. I make average grades in math, and I know I’ll need to do a lot of math in a physics class. Can you advise?
We typically advise students to take honors, AP, or special courses only if they can achieve a B or higher. If you feel you are up for the challenge, it sounds like an excellent opportunity. But overloading yourself can also be detrimental to your grades and your community involvement. My advice is to decide whether you think you can excel at this project, or whether it will be a time constraint that presents a huge struggle. If the latter is true, there are probably other opportunities you can pursue that suit your strengths. If you know you’ll be more passionate and engaged with a biology class, I would take the AP biology class rather than going out on a limb for a class that might look better on your applications. It’s always best to migrate toward your strengths and interests. Good luck!
When you are a freshman in college and you already know your major, do you still have to take general classes or can you just take the courses that apply to your major?
That’s a great question, and many entering freshman wonder about the degree of choice they’ll have when it comes to choosing classes. Most universities do require a core set of classes that teach you the basic disciplines such as writing, mathematics, and social or natural sciences. All schools are different, though. At some large universities, you’ll take core classes your first year and then focus on your major from that point forward. At some small liberal arts colleges, though, you’ll be required to experience more immersion across disciplines. There are advantages to both. For example, a liberal arts curriculum that pushes you to earn credits across disciplines will broaden your horizons and help you understand the way your career functions in a greater “ecosystem” of professionals. But a university curriculum with more time to focus on your major could lead to more specialized classes and opportunities to go deeper into your chosen field. When you consider schools, think about what style might be a better fit for your goals. Rest assured, unless you attend a technical school, you will be educated in subjects outside your major, as a college level education will require you to obtain a certain level of competence in writing, math, and other core disciplines.
If I go out of state for my undergraduate degree but then decide to go to graduate school in my home state, will I be considered an out of state student for graduate school?
Typically, once you’ve established residency with one state, you won’t immediately be able to re-established in-state residency by moving back to your home state. But, each state has different laws regarding residency, and some will allow you to maintain residency if you have a permanent address or family in that state. It is crucial that you research, and even contact the graduate school to find out if you will be eligible for in-state tuition upon returning home. Some schools will require you to prove that you have lived in the state for the past 12 months, while others may require longer or shorter duration. Always research residency requirements thoroughly, as in-state and out-of-state tuition varies greatly. Good luck!
I’m disabled and I don’t know what to study in college. I can’t move my hands much. but if you have any suggestion please let me know? If you know what classes can I take.
You’re in luck: You could probably study anything that interests you, because most universities have a disability office equipped to help students accommodate their disabilities. For example, the disability office at a college can give you a note taker who attends class with you and takes notes for you. Think about what you’d like to do as a career later, and then search for schools that offer those programs. There are also many disability scholarships available to help you cover the cost of your education. In terms of your particular disability, perhaps you could study something like communications or foreign languages, since the skills require listening and speaking knowledge of a foreign language rather than computer operation. I think considering the career you want is the best step toward finding the right education. Good luck!
Our daughter is a sophomore at a junior college in California. She would like the opportunity to study abroad. Do you have specific recommendations regarding how she can study abroad full-time and receive full credit while away. Are there programs to receive full qualified credit?
Studying abroad is a great opportunity for learning and personal growth. But each college and university offers different opportunities which translate to credit at that particular school only. You will want to research through your daughter’s particular college for study-abroad opportunities. Each school is different, and college credit is handled differently by every institution. (So, she couldn’t necessarily study abroad through one school with any guarantee that the experience would count toward credits at another.) Your best bet is to inquire through her current school or through a four-year university she plans to attend. Typically, a college has opportunities available for semester and year-long programs. Best of luck to you and your daughter!
I am a junior in high school and I am going to be moving at the end of this school year. Who should I ask regarding teacher recommendations when that time comes next year?
This is a great question. It is always wise to ask teachers with whom you’ve built a strong relationship for recommendation letters. These teachers and advisers know more about you than just your grades and GPA. They’ll know how well-rounded you are as a community member, and they should also have knowledge of your goals, strengths, and weaknesses. It might be a good idea to mention, now, to these teachers that you’ll be moving schools but want to maintain contact. This way, when the time comes for recommendation letters, you will still have relationships with those teachers and they will expect to be called upon. Also, don’t rule out teachers at the new school yet. You may find that you develop great working relationships with mentors at your new school as well.
I’m thoroughly confused about what major to choose in college. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, but I decided against it. I also love foreign languages, but I’m struggling in AP Spanish. That leaves me wondering if I should be in the veterinary field because I would be able to help animals in need. I’m a junior in high school, so I know I have some time, but I’m debating whether or not to take AP Biology next year if I decide to study veterinary science later on. I’ve already taken a few AP sciences. What should I do?
It’s wonderful that you’re thinking about career paths this early in the process of your education. It’s okay not to know your dream career for certain, but it’s great to have some ideas of what you’d like to study and ultimately do for a living. Explore classes that lead toward things you feel you might want to pursue, and take AP courses in subjects in which you know you can excel. This way, you don’t run the risk of crowding your schedule with too much rigorous, challenging work too quickly. It sounds like AP languages might not be a great choice, but if you know you can earn at least a ‘b’ or higher in AP Biology, explore the option. This will prep you for many sciences that need a firm biology basis of fundamental knowledge. Go to an adviser or trusted teacher for more advice if you’re still unsure about what to do. That mentor can assess your schedule as a whole and give you a better sense of what direction to take. Good luck!
My daughter is currently on 7th grade. She has been studying French for a year. She would like to study high school in France in a private boarding school. I have researched a lot about education in France and it seems to be stronger academically with less creative focus. She has always been a straight-A student. I am afraid that if we send her to France, she will miss out the opportunity to attend a good university in the US. I have talked to many people (including teachers) and they all suggest me to send her, and that I will not hurt her studies. What do you think?
What an opportunity! Regardless of the curriculum, moving to another country to study is an education in itself. It is likely that your daughter will gain perspective just from the exposure to a new culture and landscape. If your daughter is up for the challenge and opportunity, I don’t see how it could be a negative experience. Your apprehensions are certainly understandable, yet studying in France may really set your daughter apart from other applicants when she applies to college, regardless of a lack of arts education. Good luck with your decision!
My daughter is a senior at a high school in Southern California. She has decided to apply as a film major to a number of four-year colleges, both state and private. She is currently enrolled in AP Calculus, but has asked to drop it as it will be very difficult and time consuming for her. She has taken many AP classes already. She also has tried to get into AP Statistics, but her schedule would not allow it. How important is it for an incoming film major to show four years of math or science on a transcript, as opposed to showing classes like AP English, AP Psychology, Film Production, and other film-related subjects?
This is a great question that many will find helpful. Because your daughter is targeting a specific program in the arts, her course selections should show strong grades in subjects that are relevant to that field. You are correct with the notion that courses like AP English, AP Psychology, and film classes will be stronger indicators of her potential as a film student. Certainly, any college will desire well-rounded students with high grades overall, but these courses will reflect her aptitude toward a film program far more than AP Statistics or a calculus course. Best of luck!
Hi. I applied to a school last year and got into their Honors College. I wasn’t able to attend then, but I can now. Since I didn’t defer my acceptance, I have to apply again. Can I use the same essay I did before?
First off, congratulations on making the decision to reapply! And yes, you’re correct that you will need to apply again, even though you got in the first time. When you defer your admission, you are essentially asking the college to hold your spot for one year. If you don’t defer, you will need to start at the beginning of the admissions process. That said, you’re in a good place if you already have a basic foundation for your admission essay. I’m curious though, about what you did during the year between being accepted and now deciding you’re ready to attend. My instincts tell me that you probably had some influential life experience during that time, and you may wish to incorporate those experiences into your essay. Colleges are interested in getting to know who you are, and also why you want to attend their institution. Let them know why you’re ready now, and what brought you to this point in your college journey, and hopefully you’ll get that second “yes” you’re looking for. Good luck!