Juniors to Seniors Q&A

Reo Lee

The network of sharing information between juniors and seniors have significantly been limited this year, as the pandemic resulted in strict restriction about day to day interactions. Most of our communication has transitioned fully online, and juniors might feel a bit nervous asking seniors about some important college related information. To make things easier, here are some questions about the college application process that were sent in from juniors that are answered by seniors.

Q: What is something important to keep in mind when filing for applications?
You got this! Every college looks for something different each year, so try not to take decision letters too personally. Since there are thousands of applicants each year for school across the nation, it is important to stay confident in yourself and your abilities. Just be your authentic self, and whatever is meant to be will be!

Q: Do you know any good websites for scholarships/grants?
There aren’t any magical sites that you can go to that have the full list of scholarships or grants. There are websites however where you can sign up and see what quick things you qualify for, but from my personal experience, it always requires you to go through a grueling process of making an account to end up not actually helping since they make you pay for “premium” resources. My advice will be to do research online, a lot of it, and make sure to be updated with your choices of colleges specifically (look on their official school website for more information).
Another important thing to keep in mind is to SUBMIT a FAFSA form. Whether it ends up helping or not, it never hurts to have one.

Q: How do you ask teachers for a rec letter? (It seems awkward!)
Many Plano West (and other) teachers get a multitude of rec letters each year, so it is actually a normal process for them! It is their job to help you to succeed, so the majority of them will be more than willing to help you face the college app process. Even though teachers would like to help, it can become difficult to juggle teaching, rec letters, and many other things, so be sure to make it as easy as possible for the teacher by
– reminding them who you are and one you loved about their class
– what major you are interested in and where you’re trying to go with that
– a resume as a guide
– and finally, a list of colleges you want the letter to be submitted to along with due dates (be sure to send a request early, so teachers have plenty of time to work on them!)

Q: When should you actually start applications as a Junior, and when should you start sending in applications??
Many college applications open up at the beginning of August, so it is best to get a jump on them as soon as possible in order to receive the best possible outcome! If possible, take standardized tests junior year and/or summer before senior year because waiting on test results later on in the year can make you late for deadlines. As soon as the prompts are released, begin writing your essays! They are usually the hardest part of the application, simply because they take the longest to edit and perfect. Overall, just try not to procrastinate too much in order to avoid making what is supposed to be an exciting process stressful! Good luck next year guys!

Q: Was it more difficult to narrow down the list of colleges to apply to because of the pandemic (and no college tours)?
Yes. I had to take the location and price more seriously, given my family was hit hard by the pandemic, and I did not want to overwhelm them with expensive tuition. I also reflected a lot on how far from my family I wanted to be and only picked colleges on the borders of Texas

Q: Are colleges being more lenient in the application process because of the pandemic?
I am not sure what you would define as being lenient, but college applications are not slacking even during a global pandemic! The only thing I can say about some differences between the prior years and now was the impromptu deadline extension and SAT/ACT exemption, but that is as far as leniency. Since things are opening up, I doubt that the SAT/ACT exemption will be a thing next year. Make sure to be prepared to go through the whole process!

Thank you to all the juniors and seniors who participated and sent in answers.
(Kayla Lewis, Byron Martinez, Katia Moreno, Joey Sternberg, Numaan Subzwar, Blanca Torres)