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I thought it might be a good idea to start sharing some of our authors articles on Fridays.

I would like to introduce to you Chuck and Bea Mercer

The Mercer’s business isCAPlus (College Assistance Plus) of the Ozarks is a Christian based organization that is dedicated to helping families find the best college education for their student, and getting the best financial package possible.

I happen to have a 17 year old son who is a Senior this year at Carthage High School.  We have been talking about college and his options, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start.

Chuch writes has written an article for Kingdom Business Journal that I would like to share that may give you help if you are in the same predicament.

 

Preparing for College in High School

Marketing Yourself to Colleges”

Recommendation Letters

 

Today we received another “distress email” from a parent of a student who will begin their senior year of high school in a few days and mom is feeling the inevitable pressure as the family begins to consider the many variables of college selection. Words such as “confusing” and “overwhelmed” seem to be common in the many emails, phone calls, and contacts of this nature we have received over the years. With the cost of college tuition rising an estimated 7-10% per year, and students/families facing years and years of post graduate college loan debt, the process is intimidating to say the least. The average cost of transferring your student to another college is around 7800.00 and can be a logistical nightmare with transferring credits and making the physical move… again! By the way research has revealed that 1 in 3 of all college students will transfer to another school, usually in the freshman year. So the pressure is on to make the right college choice for your student and this can only be accomplished by starting the process as early as possible and being prepared to do hours and hours of research.

 

We at CAPlus are always encouraging families/students to start the process of college matriculation early, in fact as early as the 8th grade or freshman year of high school. The free seminars we present are full of strategies and tools to help you learn how to market your student to the college of your choice, and make intelligent, informed decisions on variables such as grant and scholarship search, FAFSA, résumé’s, essay and interview skills and strategies, ACT test skills and scores, financial aid packages, and much more. The unique and vast computer database of over 3000 colleges we use here at CAPluscan sort and search on an individual student’s interests, finances, career goals, athletic and academic criteria, and identify great college choices way before the student’s senior year. With the click of a mouse we can save a family hundreds of hours of research and possibly thousands of dollars in tuition fees by finding grants and scholarships, free money that does not have to be paid back! Our slogan here at CAPlus is “Get a Degree, Not Debt” and we are passionate about helping families/students navigate the confusing waters of college selection and making a smart college choice without accruing years of post graduate loan debt.

 

Let’s take a look at the procedure and importance of recommendation letters, a very important component of the strategy of “Marketing Yourself to Colleges”.

Most colleges request that each applicant send at least one letter of recommendation with the college application. They may require that you submit a guidance counselor letter as well as another of your choosing. Teachers, youth leaders, employers, and people the student knows well make good candidates for recommendation letters. Some colleges ask guidance counselors to complete and submit a Counselor Report Form as well, so you should spend some time talking with your guidance counselor to get to know them before they fill out a form or write a letter for you. If the college does not require a Counselor Report Form, they will still need a copy of your student transcript. Let your guidance office know what your requirements are so they can ensure that your materials are mailed on time. Guidance offices tend to be quite busy during the months of December and January, so be mindful of their time when you ask for help with applications. If you give them a lot of time to complete the recommendation, you will probably get a better-thought-out letter than if you give them a week.

 

If the college asks for a second recommendation letter, it is wise to ask a teacher. This second letter is meant to give the admissions office an idea of who you are as a person, what kind of work you can do, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and if you are truly interested in learning. The teacher shouldn’t just reiterate your grades in his or her classes; the admissions counselor can see that from your transcript. Choose teachers who know you best; English or math teachers are generally strong choices. If you indicate a preferred major or field of interest on your application, consider having a teacher from that subject write a letter for you. Choose a teacher you’ve had either this year or last; don’t choose someone who taught you three years ago.

 

An important thing to remember about teacher recommendations: unless you have a relationship out of class, the teacher only knows you from your interaction and participation during class. If you don’t participate much in class, you need to start now. Your grades in the class alone won’t give you a good recommendation. The teacher needs to see that you are thoughtful, interested, and able to communicate.

 

If the college does not specify that you need a teacher recommendation, consider a youth pastor, drama teacher, athletic coach, or someone who may know you very well. When you ask people to write recommendations for you, specify when the letters are due and offer to meet with them in case they have questions. Be specific about the dates. You don’t want to be denied acceptance to a college because they never received this part of your application. You can also give them a copy of your résumé so they can see what other activities you have been involved in.

 

Many students ask whether they should get extra letters of recommendation beyond those that are required. Generally letters from people who do not know you as well as a person (i.e. the President, a Senator, bishops, etc.) are not helpful. If the college requires two recommendation letters, one from your guidance counselor and one from a teacher, and you are a proficient trumpet player, you may want to send a third letter from your trumpet teacher. Have the person writing the letter send it directly to the college admissions office, and notify your high school guidance office that they have been sent. Don’t send more than one; if you send multiple extra recommendation letters, it may annoy the admissions office.

 

I hope that helps.  I found it to be very valuable information. 

Tune in next Friday for Authors Friday!!

Lowell Lane

 

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