Stum works through college applications, takes advice from college advisors

Kasey Thompson, Managing Editor

Senior Morgan Stum is applying to several colleges early action. She started working on applications late this summer. 

“I am applying to about four schools early action. [They are] University of Richmond, Coastal Carolina University, Bridgewater College and Penn State. I started working on applications probably sometime in July. I went onto Common App, logged in and I filled out the questions that every institution has,” Stum said. 

Stum has identified two fields she may be interested in majoring or minoring in. The University of Virginia (UVA) is her dream school and they have programs in both subjects. 

“My dream college is UVA, I really hope to get in. It’s a very beautiful campus. I’m interested in psychology or biology [and] UVA is really good if you want to go into a medical field. If I major in one of them, [psychology or biology], I’ll probably minor in the other,” Stum said. 

Currently, Stum has finished parts of her applications and is mostly focusing on exploring the site and resources available. 

“I have all the general information on the Common App filled out right now. [I also] have most of my teacher recommendations through Naviance. I’m still working on filling up the college specific Common App application stuff. Then I have to finish my [personal] essay and make sure everything gets in,” Stum said. 

Stum isn’t worried about the essay topics due to how general the prompts are. 

“I definitely think that the essay topics are very overview-like, so they’re pretty easy to stick to. They’re not specific, it’s more categories. You can write about what you do, your hobbies, there’s even a question that says, ‘Hey, write anything that you want.’ They’re very accommodating to everybody and what they would like to write about,” Stum said. 

After revising her college essays herself, Stum plans to get help from her former junior year English teacher to edit her essays. 

“I usually write the essay and then I go through and revise it. Then I’ll send it [to] either the [school’s] college counselor or my 11th grade English teacher, Valerie Kibler. She’ll read my essay and [then I’ll meet] with her to revise it,” Stum said. 

Seniors are not only focused on getting applications done and on time, but they also have schoolwork to stay on top of. Stum has taken advantage of her free blocks to work on applications. 

“I have no idea [how I am going to get all my applications done]. Probably lots of late nights, hard work, working on them whenever I can, just grinding basically. If I see that I’m spending too much time on homework at home, I just put a pause on that and go work on college applications. [I] try to equal out the time [spent on homework and applications],” Stum said. 

Throughout the last few months, Stum has learned about what the process is actually like. 

“I expected college apps to be a couple questions, the essay is the main part, turn in your transcript, turn in your essay, maybe like three or four questions and you [find out] two or three weeks later, [but] that is not the case. It’s very question based. The [personal] essay is a big part, but it’s not as big as I thought it was,” Stum said. 

Stum will find out whether or not she is accepted into the colleges she applied to early action at different times. Some will be soon after she turns in her application. 

“Some of the schools that I’m applying to have a rolling admissions process. That [means] two to three weeks after I turn in my application, I’ll find out [whether or not I got in]. Some of [the other schools] wait until the application deadline and [then] they give out [information] to everybody,” Stum said. 

Blue Ridge Community College Career Coach Rachel Linden and College Advisor Anna Du have put together a checklist for seniors based on what they hope to do after high school. 

“We’re currently updating a checklist that has existed for a while. [However we want] each senior, depending on what their plan is for after high school, to have their own checklist. A student planning to apply to four year colleges has a little bit of a different list of things that they need to

do, versus a student that’s planning to apply to a trade school or enter the military or workforce. By the time we have our senior meeting, we will be able to roll out this tool as a guide to share upcoming dates and what things students need to be thinking about,” Linden said.

Depending on what path seniors are choosing, learning about financial aid, putting together a resume or identifying long term goals may be important. 

“If higher education is a part of [the students] goals, things like working on the FAFSA, scholarship applications, understanding that they’re going to have to request transcripts, things like that [are important]. On the career side of things, and students thinking about workforce, military or trade schools, we definitely want [those] students to be working on a resume or have a basic start to what they’ve already accomplished to move forward into whatever field or plan that they have,” Linden said. “[On the checklist], there’s also information about seniors and graduation and other tasks that don’t necessarily have to do with after high school, but also things that they might want to think about while they’re in high school.”

The first step for seniors when looking into their futures is exploring possible pathways and finding what they may be interested in. They can then schedule a meeting with their school counselor. Du and Linden are available for extra support, Linden specifically for BRCC related questions. 

“Ms. Du and I are here as college and career support, so we are here to help students who are exploring a plan, thinking about what they want to do, [even if] they have no idea what their next step is and where they’re headed,” Linden said. “The first step to anything is [to] explore and figure out what are some of the things that are exciting to them about their future, what are they hoping to gain as a long term goal. I think a lot of students say, ‘College is the next step. That’s just what I need to do.’ [However], they’re not exactly sure why college is the next step. For some students, they may not even need college as the next step in order to get to the career pathway that they’re hoping for. Being thoughtful about what it is that you’re really going after or at least meeting with someone to try to figure out, ‘What is that thing that I’m going after?’ would be helpful.”

Du hopes to help seniors through the research process and give feedback on application and scholarship essays.

“I can support students in the nitty gritty things, like doing research [and] applications together. [Also], sometimes there’s certain questions on the Common App that just aren’t very intuitive, [I can help with that as well]. One of my favorite things to do is giving feedback on college and scholarship essays. You really get to know the student and what their aspirations are through those,” Du said.

If a student comes to the decision that they hope to go to college after high school, Linden is a resource for not just BRCC information, but any post secondary planning. 

“If a student is specifically interested in Blue Ridge Community College, then I am the resource on this campus to help students connect with Blue Ridge and complete the steps needed [for that] specifically. That’s just an additional way I can assist students in senior year [if] their Blue Ridge bound, but we’re also working with students in other grade levels to help them be thinking about their futures [as well],” Linden said. 

In upcoming weeks, the counseling department will be pushing out more information and resources for the class of 2022. 

“We’re going into senior English 12 classrooms to [present] some of this information more generally. We’re also going to be having a senior workshop day. There will be some workshops on October 13 that seniors can sign [up for] to get specific help with applying [for] scholarships, resume building and, thinking about different job opportunities in the community. It is a process, so we don’t want students to wait until the last minute to start, but we also don’t want them to be overwhelmed with all of the steps because it is going to take time to work through each of those components,” Linden said.

In the meantime, Linden recommends all seniors log into their Naviance accounts. More information on the platform will be shared in advisory. 

“It’s a great career [and] college search tool [and] it is the actual platform by which students request their transcripts and letters of recommendation. We are going into classrooms to help educate students about how to use that platform, but we [also] want students to take advantage of the opportunities that we’re going to offer throughout the year through ELT and advisory. We’re just getting started [and] as the year goes on, there will be more specific opportunities,” Linden said.

For the most up to date information and helpful resources, seniors should follow Du’s Instagram, @blustreaks2college to keep their college application process on track. 

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