Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Selecting the right college
July 22, 2019

College admissions representatives from the University of Denver, Syracuse University, Purdue University, Davidson College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges spoke to Culver Upper Schools students during a special college information session on July 17.

“We have some amazing kids in the summer,” Culver Summer Schools & Camps Director Andy Seddelmeyer explained, and he wanted them to have the opportunity to hear from college admissions people on how to select the best college for them and to prepare for the application process.

Culver Academies college advising associate director Francois Medard led the group discussion during the general session for all students. That was followed by a more directed session for first classmen. They were also offered the opportunity to interview with one of the admissions representatives or learn more about writing essays for their college applications the following morning. Meeting with students were Christy Statema (Denver), April Lynch (Syracuse), A.J. Frigo (Purdue), Patrick Orr (Davidson), and Max Gorton (Hobart).

Session highlights included:

  • There is no secret formula for getting into a specific school. Each college is looking for people who will be successful while on campus and after they graduate.
  • Begin your search by writing down your goals – “who you want to become” – which will impact your college path. Then make sure to take high school classes related to that field. Your grades and transcripts will “show us the area you are truly interested in.”
  • Start making a list of the things you are involved in “now.” It is easier to add to the list as time goes by rather than recall everything while you are filling out the college application.
  • Remember there are 5,000 colleges and universities to choose from. Start looking at websites and visit the campuses early. Eat the food. The college you pick will be your home for the next four years. You want it to the best fit possible.
  • You don’t need the “perfect fit” to be successful at college. No school will meet all your expectations. “You can create your success at whatever school your go to.”
  • Your college application should reflect who you are – “What makes you, you.” Describe why something is important to you. You can be in 18 different clubs or just one – but your passion in those areas will indicate to the admissions committee whether or not you will be successful.
  • Your “story” should also reflect that you are a good community member and a great neighbor. The letters of recommendations should do the same.
  • Do an interview if possible. Not every college or university offers them (For example, Purdue has more than 43,000 students and receives more than 50,000 applications annually.), but it is an important tool to use at smaller colleges.
  • If you are stuck on what to say on the application, don’t be afraid to call the admissions office and ask. Don’t be afraid to ask someone “What can make me more competitive?”
  • Remember that scholarships and other financial aid are tied to grades.
  • If you are interested in playing sports in college, especially at the NCAA Division I level, reach out to college coaches early in your high school career. And, remember, there are strict NCAA regulations that must be followed during the recruiting process. Grades are still important. And much of this applies at D2 and D3 schools as well. Talk with your high school coaches about the process.
  • Be realistic when it comes to recruiting. You must be a competitive athlete and you must be a competitive student. And, remember, most schools offer club sports and recreational leagues to feed that competitive fire.
  • While some colleges are now test-optional, the ACT and SAT tests are still important and many still require them. And take the tests at least twice. Studies have shown that students score better on the second test. Also, take advantage of the free test prep sites like Kahn Academy and ACT Academy.
  • Each college handles international student applications differently. It is best to check with each school to see what is required.
  • Talk with students and alumni from the colleges you are interested in. Ask them about their experiences and why they chose that specific school.
  • Students control 66 percent of the enrollment process. They decide which colleges to apply to and, if they are accepted, they have the final say on whether they attend.
  • Don’t stress being put on the wait list. That shows the school is interested in you. It is not a negative message. If you are not going to attend a specific college, let them know so they can take someone off the wait list to fill your slot.
  • Challenge yourself while in high school. Don’t take the safe classes to boost your GPA. Admissions people will look at your transcripts to see if you have carried a strong academic load.


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