Peyton Rodgers column: Preparing for college

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 1, 2015

As soon as students enter high school, college preparation begins.

They are constantly bombarded with questions about college from their peers, teachers and guidance counselors. Many take steps as early as their freshman year to prepare for college in order to increase their chances of being accepted into their school of choice.

I’m a junior at Carson High School, and I too have started preparing for college.

I’m doing an internship at the Salisbury Post so I better understand what it’s like being a reporter. I’ve been a part of the Crosby Scholars program since my sophomore year. In order to stay in this program, I must attend a certain number of meetings and give at least two hours of community service each year.

This program is made to help students prepare for college in many different ways. Crosby Scholars helps students prepare for the ACT and SAT by providing test-taking knowledge and offers workshops on preparing for college.

“We do academies which are required, advisor meetings four times a year and workshops with things that each individual student is good at,” said Jessica Vess, the program director for Crosby Scholars.

Allyson Baxter is also a part of Crosby Scholars.

“It helps me know the best ways to prepare for college,” she said.

Baxter is taking all honors classes and is in the National Honor Society. She is keeping her grades up with an open eye on schools to attend.

Haley Cranford is a senior at Carson and has already taken the ACT. She has applied to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in hopes of getting into a nursing program for two years and then becoming an registered nurse.

“I hope that everything goes as planned, and I’m able to get into the program I want in and fulfill my goals,” says Cranford.

Research shows the best way to get ready for college is to get involved with things you are good at such as sports, music, art and clubs.

It is also great to challenge yourself academically and to get any help needed.

Guidance counselors say the most effective way to prepare for college is to take the most challenging courses the student can handle.

“Most colleges look for academic students or unique talents,” said Vince Connolly, one of Carson’s guidance counselors.

“The uncertainty is what scares everyone. Students put a lot of time into it and then wait on schools to be accepted or not,” Connolly said.

Catawba College’s Assistant Director of Admissions Lindsey Griffen and Laura Gilland, an admissions counselor, agreed that students who show they can handle both work and academics stand out the most.

Work doesn’t necessarily have to be a paid part-time job. It could include helping an ill family member or getting involved with something in the community.

“Students that are willing to experience something outside of just what they’re getting between the pages in the book and a hard desk,” Gilland said.

“We really look at character and how a student can embody that,” Griffen added.

Grades are not the only way to get accepted into college.

Some great ways for students to shine are through essays, video blogs, test scores and activities outside of school.

“If a student does not have a strong GPA (grade point average) or test scores so we can admit them right out, then we process it to a faculty enrollment committee,” Griffen said. “Prior to doing that, we’re going to get as much additional information about the student as we can. We will then reach out for essays, letters of recommendation and we may also reach out and talk with you.”

Griffen and Gilland also said anything that will separate you from the crowd is good for college and that your weaknesses will not keep you from being accepted into college.

“Colleges will look at weighted and unweighted GPA,” Gilland said, adding that colleges look at core classes as well.

In order to prepare to write a college admissions essay, Gilland and Griffen suggest writing about a good experience when it happens so it is organic. That way, it will be good for an essay.

Griffen said it’s never too early to prepare for college.

“Junior year is a good time to start visiting and think about what you want to showcase. Senior year is when you fill out the application,” she said.

Peyton Rodgers is a Carson High School junior and Salisbury Post intern.