Editorial: College applications just the first step

Editorial Staff

With Nov. 1 passing, many students believe that their college process has finished. In truth, it has barely begun. There are plenty of decisions and searches left to take, and if you end up being late, your scholar-“ship” might have sailed.

For example, colleges have separate applications for general admission and merit scholarships, usually with vastly different deadlines. Don’t get caught off guard by the different deadlines; hitting submit doesn’t mean you’re done with the college process. While most colleges and universities may provide merit scholarships, some don’t.

Students should apply to numerous private scholarships, many of which only require a certain score on the SAT or ACT. In order to find some of these private academic scholarships that are right for you, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com, Cappex.com, Zinch.com and Fastwebscholarships.com.

Talk to your parents about your financial situation, if your family makes less than $55,000 you can get more in federal Pell Grants and financial aid. But, be mindful that before you fill out an application or write an impassioned essay, make sure that you actually are eligible for the scholarship. Don’t waste your time. Financial Night at Palatine High School is Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., see your counselor for more information.

There are thousands of databases that can give you money for college. The only problem is figuring out exactly how much time and energy you want to devote to receiving it. The more money that is offered, then generally it’s more difficult to fill out, qualify, or compete with lots of other students for (more effort is needed). There are some scholarships that are simply by random or by qualifications as well, but these aren’t usually worth as much money.

Most scholarships will get back to you by the end of February or March. College isn’t just about the price tag as much as it might seem like it. Anyone can probably get enough scholarships at a small college for the price tag to not be an issue. But going to Northern Illinois University and hating it for free versus going to Bradley University and loving it for $60,000 a year, is a major difference. College is four huge years of your life, and it’ll suck if you hate it.

Ultimately, the “college experience” needs to be your experience. Going to college in the United States is considered a rite of passage that transcends the classroom. This is unique to this country. On the other hand, in France, obtaining a degree solely involves going to school and sitting in a classroom and listening to your professeur. Then you go home, memorize the content, and repeat. There are no rustic quads with fall leaves tumbling across the lawn, no rah-rah football teams, no clubs.

Regardless of where you choose to go to school, remember that beyond the academic life, the culture on campus is just as important to your growth as a human being. Hopefully, you’re a different person from the scared freshman you walked into Palatine on your first day (different in a good way, friends). In the same way, the person you leave as at the end of your four years in college should be different too. But without taking the necessary first steps now, you’ll never get a chance to take the voyage.