Are you looking for the inside scoop on how to get started with the college admissions process? Search no further! Read on for a summary of our recent discussion with local experts Rashonda Austin, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), and Ashleigh Eickhoff, campus visit coordinator at Peru State College.
When should high school students apply to college?
Applications for the next academic year typically open on August 1, though that’s not standard. Check with the college you’re interested in attending. You can apply up to the week before classes start, but we wouldn’t advise it. The sooner you apply for admission, the better your chances of earning scholarships. Plus, no one wants to be rushing around at the end of their senior year!
Students often apply to multiple colleges. When do students need to make their final choice?
May 1 is our unofficial decision day, so students have some time. Financial aid packages are typically sent in February, which leaves students a few months to make their final decisions. Though again, students can decide up to a week before classes begin in August.
Do admission requirements differ depending on the college?
In the case of UNO, we look for students to have an ACT of 20 or higher, be in the top 50 percent of their class, or have a 3.0 GPA. Additionally, incoming freshmen must have completed the following core courses: four years of English; three years of math; three years of world history; two years of a world language; and three years of science, including a lab. That said, it’s important to know that we look at applications holistically. We want students to apply even if they don’t meet all the requirements.
At Peru State, our mission is to provide access to higher education. The Nebraska State College System is open enrollment, so there is no minimum ACT or GPA. It’s important to note that most high schools set their graduation requirements to align with the admission requirements of the University of Nebraska system, so if you’ve graduated from a Nebraska high school, there’s a good chance you have met those core requirements.
How can students apply for college-based scholarships?
At UNO, all a student has to do is submit their admission application, and they are automatically entered into the running for our scholarships. We consider ACT, GPA, and class rank when making awards, which range from $1,000 to the cost of tuition.
Peru State’s scholarships require students to submit a personal statement/scholarship essay before January 15 each year. My best advice is for students to start working on their personal statements now because they can use them for other scholarship applications outside of the college.
What’s the best way for students to talk directly to admissions reps?
Please respond to our text messages, emails, and phone calls! If you see that an admissions rep coming to your high school, take advantage of it. Also, be sure to visit us at college fairs each fall.
How valuable is a college visit, and while on campus, what should students look for?
The individual campus visit experience is incredibly important. Students need to see the campus in person to get a feel for student life and whether it’s a good fit. You’ll know right away if it’s the place for you. In addition to a campus tour, we can set up appointments to meet directly with faculty, coaches, financial aid staff – the list goes on! It’s important to bring at least one parent with you. We also encourage group visits for underclassmen.
What are the most common questions asked of college reps?
How can I pay for college? It’s always the elephant in the room. First, file your FAFSA (Free
Application for Federal Student Aid). And be sure to utilize ScholarshipQuest, EducationQuest’s database of more than 2,000 Nebraska-based scholarships. Every little bit helps, and even small awards add up.
Are there questions you wish students would ask?
We wish students would ask more questions in general. Know that you are not bothering or burdening anyone. Selecting a college is a huge decision, and we want to ensure you are comfortable and have all the information you need. Being a student will be your job for the next several years, so let us help guide you through the process. We don’t know what you don’t know, so ask questions.
I wish more students would ask us how to get involved. The college experience entails so much more than classroom study. Think broadly about the experience you want to have. We encourage multiple visits to campus to go to a game, club meeting, choir performance – anything that will give students a glimpse into what their campus experience will be like so they can decide if they want to be part of it.
Finally, what is your best advice for students and families considering college?
Explore your options – even if you think something is out of reach. You won’t know until you try. Take your time. Start the process early, so you have time to explore your options.
By Regan Anson