Steamboat Springs High School counselor Gayle Dudley talks to students about applying to college Wednesday during a presentation at the school.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School counselor Gayle Dudley talks to students about applying to college Wednesday during a presentation at the school.

Counselor offers college tips

Students, parents attend information session at high school

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On the 'Net

If considering a state school, see the Colorado Commission on Higher Education's Admissions Eligibility Index at http://highered.c.... The chart multiplies a student's standardized test scores with his or her class rank or GPA to help determine whether the student meets the admissions requirements of specific schools.

For more information about researching and applying for colleges, visit:

- www.collegeincolo...

- http://collegeboa...

- www.act.org

- Gayle Dudley's Web page at http://teacherweb...

— Carl Steele wants to be a radiologist.

The Steamboat Springs High School junior needed some information about applying to colleges, so he and about 20 other students attended an hourlong college application seminar Wednesday afternoon that provided an overview of the entire process.

"I know the overall goal," Steele said about his preferred career choice. "I just need to know the steps to get there."

He's on the right track. It's important to start early because so much of researching and applying for colleges can't wait until the very end, said Steamboat Springs High School college counselor Gayle Dudley, who conducts the seminars.

Applying early is especially important during a recession, she said.

"The application process is much more competitive now," Dudley said. "And it comes very fast. Now, many (application) deadlines are in the fall."

Add the fact many colleges are giving less financial aid, Dudley said, and it's a bigger incentive to apply early. That's why she conducts the seminars in the fall for seniors and in the spring for juniors. Sophomores also are encouraged to attend.

Dudley said there are basically four parts to the application process:

- The first is making sure college is right for you. Ask yourself a series of questions like, "Why do I want to go?" and, "Will attending college get me closer to my goals?"

If you don't know the answers to those questions, you may not have success, Dudley said.

- The second part is deciding what you're looking for in one of the more than 3,000 colleges across the country. It could be anything: academic area, athletics, activities, location, community, size, learning style, type of housing, atmosphere or cost. Researching colleges can be done entirely online, Dudley said, with a number of college Web sites offering virtual tours in addition to providing information about the school.

- The third part of the process is determining what colleges are looking for. Dudley said that goes beyond academic achievement to what she called the "Wow Factor" - what sets you apart or makes you unique. Colleges look for students who are passionate and demonstrate initiative and leadership. Dudley said it's important to remember that you're not only competing with students from Steamboat and across Colorado, but also the rest of the country.

- The final part is actually applying to colleges. Dudley recommended applying to three to six schools. Applying to more than six can be overwhelming and costly. Competitive colleges may require essays and/or recommendation letters, so Dudley suggests starting early. And when visiting, Dudley said to schedule trips at times other than the summer.

Dudley said when choosing a school, the most important thing is finding the right fit. Without it, she said, it's tough to be successful.

Some parents who attended the seminar said they left with more information than they sat down with.

Originally from Sweden, Janette Thielemann said she's not familiar with the college process in the U.S. And she said her daughter Amanda, a junior, was considering attending college in Scandinavia, but they are keeping their options open.

Jeff Puffett said he wanted to get information about "sister" schools of the Colorado institutions because his daughter Corey, a junior, is thinking about leaving the state. Dudley said there aren't sister schools, but the Western Graduate Exchange allows residents to pay in-state tuition plus 50 percent at some schools in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and two in California.

As a parent who wants his daughter to attend college, Puffett said he attended the seminar to get as much info as he could.

"It's a huge process," he said. "You've got to prepare. It's not a simple choice."

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