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Student Spotlight | 5 Minutes

VSA Students Give Advice on Getting into College

Written by Kaylee Long
VSA Students Give Advice on Getting into College

Last night, I did the impossible…or at least, what I thought was impossible. I pressed ‘submit’ on my Common Application to my choice school. After weeks of stressful essay writing and near breakdowns, I managed to apply to college. And guess what, I’m homeschooled! No counselor, no advisor – just me and my mom roughing it out. What I learned (besides the homeschool CEEB code, which is 970000, which comes in handy) is that we can do it.

You can do it.

College applications can seem scary and overwhelming. But I am here to tell you not only that you can make it through the application, but you can get into a nice college as a homeschool student. God has a plan for you, specifically, and if college is His plan, you’ll get there. Just because it may be His plan for you, however, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the same work as everyone else in order to get it.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I learned:

1. Stressing is the least helpful thing you will do. Okay, okay, this may seem elementary or self-explanatory – but the Lord says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Phillipians 4:6) Stress, which is practically my middle name, will not help you finish that essay or compile that portfolio. It won’t magically make you get through the endless pages of personal information you have to fill out. What it will do, however, is hinder you. Greatly so. Take your anxieties to God. As hard as it may seem in the moment, stop and pray. Commit your work to Him and He will help you find peace. I promise.

2. Take it in bite size pieces…and make lists. As I was rushing to finish my early applications before the deadline, my mother continually reminded me to be methodical and to make lists. When you go online and open the application, whether it’s the Common App or a portal on the college’s website, there are an overwhelming amount of empty text boxes. There are tabs galore, each with a drop down menu of more tabs with more empty boxes that you are expected to fill with your entire personal history. Here is my advice, only look at the big picture once! Then, make a list of what you must accomplish, take it one step at a time and…

3. Take breaks. Many applications are so extensive, there is almost no way you will get them done in one sitting. That is ok. It’s normal. Don’t expect to sit at your computer for an hour and have applied to all the colleges you are considering. Expecting to be done quickly will only set you up for feeling defeated when it ends up taking you days to complete your application. To avoid the feeling, which leads to more stress (see #1) make your goals, and then rest when you have accomplished them. Think of each section like a mini battle in the one big war that is applying to college; once you have conquered one section, take a water break. Stretch. Rest your brain. Be happy you are one step closer.

4. Be proactive about your essays, references, and portfolios. Now, not all colleges require extensive essays or references, and many programs don’t need to see a portfolio. But, for those that do – don’t wait until the last minute! Especially with your reference letters. Decide which teachers or mentors you want to write on your behalf.

When you begin an application that requires recommendations, before you have even finished filling out your personal info, request your letters. Email, call, text or talk to whomever it is you want to recommend you. Give them all the information they need to be able to submit the letter on your behalf. And then, most importantly, give them time. They are busy, but they will get to it when they can. So, allow them as much time as possible so your application can be complete in a timely manner. I am not the only homeschooler who has had success in the application process. I had the pleasure of chatting with fellow VPSA student, Lexi Castro, on the subject.

-- Kaylee Long

I have so much that I could say, but first and foremost, say, you are never too young to start planning for college! I wish I had known this back in the ninth grade when I thought that college was ages away – it isn’t. Before you know it, you’ll be worrying about applications.

  • If you are in the ninth grade, this is the optimal time for you to begin to participate in outside activities that will enhance your resume and make you a more competitive applicant. I’m a total visual person so my advice would be don’t think that you can store all of these activities in your head – write them down!
  • Start a small journal notebook that you jot down things as you complete them, even if they seem like everyday life to you. My grandmother is a quadriplegic, and for me, it is just a way of life to take care of her and I saw nothing significant that I thought worth adding to my college resume. However, from my mother, and also my advisor Mrs. Lexi Detweiler, I learned that even if something seems normal to you, ask yourself, “does the typical teenager do this?” If the answer is no, I guarantee you that you should include it in your resume.
  • I am a perfectionist. I waited until I had everything put together (every letter of recommendation, my resumé, and all of SAT and ACT scores) before I began applying. However, this was a mistake! Not only did I push the deadlines for the applications, but also I stressed myself out. Instead, begin applying, and as you finalize things, begin submitting them.
  • Don’t worry, instead pray. It is so easy to begin freaking out, and stressing yourself over questions like, “what if they don’t accept me?” But friend, if I could share a little secret with you… Even if you have a PERFECT SAT score, I mean not-a-single-problem-wrong score, and you apply somewhere, if it’s not the will of God, then you won’t be accepted! So don’t worry!

    If God intends for you to go to a specific college, He will make it happen, despite all of your perceived downfalls! So take encouragement and smile as you submit your applications.

-- Lexi Castro