College seminars offered | SteamboatToday.com

College seminars offered

It's never too early to prepare for post-secondary schooling

Katie Birch/Special to the Steamboat Today

— Most high school seniors would agree that their final year is a chaotic time filled with college applications, standardized tests and loads of stress. And there never seems to be enough time to get it all done.

Steamboat Springs High School senior Ellie Bird has felt that stress more than the typical senior.

“I didn’t even start thinking about where I wanted to go or what I wanted to major in until after I needed to start applying” to colleges, she said.

Time caught up with her, and the fall of her senior year was spent frantically completing college applications and taking standardized tests. Bird said she wishes she had started preparing for the college application process before she was faced with daunting deadlines and cut-off dates.

To ease the stress of senior year and to prepare high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors for the years to come, Steamboat Springs High School college and career counselor Gayle Dudley is offering free seminars for parents and students at 2:15 today and Wednesday in the high school’s media center. The seminars, titled “I want to go to college, what should I be doing now?” provide a starting point to get younger students thinking about college and the decisions they will need to make in coming years.

“It helps them start thinking,” Dudley said. She said senior year is too late to begin the process of thinking about college. Certain decisions about classes, extracurricular activities and standardized testing must be made as early as freshman year. Dudley also said it’s imperative for students to attend college seminars to learn about the college application process and what will be required of them.

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Dudley said colleges want students who demonstrate a strong work ethic and interest in their university throughout their high school careers, not just during senior year. Colleges and universities also want well-rounded students, so the earlier students begin developing their qualities and activities, the better.

Jared Meier, the associate director of admissions at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, agrees.

“The sooner you plan, the better,” Meier said, adding that colleges are becoming more selective. He said students who understand how the application process works can apply and be admitted earlier, as well as have a better shot at financial aid.

“Then they essentially have more priority for housing, scholarships and class registration,” Meier said.

Every year, Dudley spends a considerable amount of time with students who didn’t know the steps in the admissions process for colleges or have not completed required courses. High school graduation requirements are the bare minimum, and a student who plans to attend college should know college requirements before registering for classes for their sophomore, junior and senior years in high school. Preparation is key to a smooth and composed senior year, Dudley said.

Bird said she would have better prepared herself had she known in advance how chaotic her senior year would be.

“I wish I had more time so that I could have found a college where I had a strong desire to go,” Bird said.

Her situation is not unlike that of other seniors who may have regrets about their high school years. Dudley hopes future seniors won’t have similar regrets. Attending today’s or Wednesday’s free seminars could be a step in the right direction.

Birch, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, is an intern at the Steamboat Pilot & Today.