College Admission Help: How To Find Free Resources | Best colleges
Applying to college can be a bit like putting a puzzle together – a challenge to find the right pieces and their right places. For first-generation or low-income students, the process may be like putting the puzzle together without the picture on the box for reference.
This is why many students are looking for free resources for University admission assistance.
While the high school counselor’s office is a good start, students may have limited interaction with counselors who are overworked due to their heavy workloads. But a host of resources – available both online and in person – can help guide prospective students on the right paths on their college admission journey.
“We recognize that we need to make it easier for all students, but especially first-generation and low-income students, to access, pay for, and access higher education,” Jenny said. Rickard, President and CEO of the Common application, a popular platform that makes it easy to apply for multiple colleges. “Certainly there were already obstacles, and then the COVID-19 pandemic created many more. “
To help students overcome these various entry barriers, US News has compiled a list of free resources below, covering topics such as standardized tests, essays, financial aid, and more.
Advice on admission to Access College
The admission process can take a long time to unwrap. This is where personalized advice comes in. Independent education consultants often charge sky-high sums that are out of reach for many families, but free resources are available that can serve students in the same way.
Possible College, a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of AmeriCorps, offers free college admission assistance to students in public high schools, typically concentrated in major metropolitan areas, in seven states: Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Wisconsin. College Possible operates as an after-school program, guiding students through a college access and success program.
“At College Possible, we aspire to bridge the gap between college degrees,” said Craig Robinson, President of College Possible. “We do this through our peer mentoring program, where recent college graduates, through AmeriCorps, serve as high school coaches to help these students complete the college application process. . “
Mentors also help students navigate registration and financial aid process.
The Common App has also recently entered the college counseling world, partnering with College Advising Corps – a nonprofit organization focused on student counseling – and electronics tech company AdmitHub to offer free admission advice. to 500,000 low-income, first-generation students.
The common app offers counseling through chatbots, as well as admissions counselors who work with these students through online text and video messaging platforms.
With the coronavirus pandemic shifting much of college life online, Rickard says concerns about lack of access to high school counselors prompted the creation of the Common App’s Virtual Counseling Program, which is still in the works. test phase.
“They did not necessarily have access to their advisers, and first generation college students and low-income students in particular may not have had the resources to get additional psychological support, ”Rickard said. “We were really concerned about them and wanted to find a way to put them in touch with advice on how to sail. the process.”
Common App aims to assess student success from the virtual counseling effort in order to learn how the program can be modified to expand its availability, she adds.
Be educated is another free resource that provides a variety of college admissions services for prospective students, as well as other offerings such as coaching students on how to approach job interviews.
Services include SMS advice, academic essay reviews, and more.
“Our goal is to provide useful and engaging content where young people spend their time: SMS, social media and the Internet,” wrote John Branam, executive director of Get Schooled, in an email. “We also provide content directly to college counselors and educators, primarily in high schools, who then push our content out to young people and encourage them to follow us on social media and engage with us via SMS.”
While these programs have limited capacity, prospective students should check with their high schools to see what other free admission resources are available, experts say. Local charities and other organizations can also offer college admission assistance.
An unofficial resource that can benefit students: college admissions forums. As the social media landscape is littered with misinformation, students can get great advice on certain forums, such as Reddit and Quora, where college admissions counselors are often active.
Find resources to discuss test preparation
Although many colleges have become optional for testing due to the challenges of administering standardized tests during the pandemic, some students are still eager to take the test. ACT and SAT.
The good news for these students is that there are free resources available from both organizations.
the ACT Academy offers a personalized practice. Students can access free videos, simulations, and other practice tools through the online resource to prepare for the test.
The College Council is associated with Khan Academy for its SAT test preparation offers. Students can visit the Khan Academy website to take comprehensive practice tests, set up personalized study plans, and watch videos covering the content of the exam.
Get help with college essays
Make a college essay is an important part of the admissions process. According to a 2019 report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the main factors in admission decisions are grades in all courses, grades in college preparation courses, strength of the study program secondary, the results of the entrance tests, then the university essay.
Since the admissions essay matters more than factors like class rank and extracurricular activities, according to NACAC, students should do their best when writing a personal statement. Fortunately, there are free resources that can help students get started.
Robinson at Possible College nods to History2 as an organization that can help students with their best writing efforts. According to the Story2 website, a free trial membership includes access to a guided writing platform, interactive lessons, and daily workouts.
Free resources are also sometimes available through admission counselors who charge for their work with private clients.
Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Guy Essay website, has a wealth of free resources on its website to help students get started. Students can find tips on how to think through essay topics, write personal statements, and tackle additional essays by engaging with pre-recorded videos, free webinars, and text-based media.
Once the essay is written, there are free tools to get feedback, such as Get Schooled, which Branam says reviewed more than 1,000 college admissions essays in 2020.
Find funds for college
Admission is not enough – students need a plan to pay for their college education.
the Federal student aid The website should be one of the first stops for prospective students and parents trying to find funding. The website offers advice on how and when to complete the Free Federal Student Aid Application, known as FAFSA, as well as a breakdown of how grants, co-op, student loans and scholarships all fit into the college education payment formula. .
In addition to the information available on college websites, prospective students should be aware that college financial aid offices are open to inquiries and can only be accessed by a free call or email.
Various scholarship sites can also give students a good start. For example, Scholarship search, a new free tool developed by US News, gives students the ability to search over 8,500 scholarships and save their favorites.
The resources students need to help them find their way to college are likely available in one admissions program or another, and it’s just a matter of finding those services, Robinson says.
“If there is a will, there is a way. Be encouraged that there are programs and resources to help you navigate your college and career path.”