For the class of 2018, this semester marks the beginning of the famous – or infamous – college search. Juniors at Lincoln Park have been preparing for standardized tests, researching scholarship opportunities, and mulling over the thousands of potential colleges to apply to.
The first step for most students is the PSATs, held in the fall every year. These are one way to gauge your abilities and predict a score on the SATs (Scholastic Achievement Test) or a wake up call to students who need to study before they sign up for the real deal the following spring or fall. Your score on the PSATs often attracts colleges; you can expect emails filling up your inbox from local schools like Cal-U or Grove City College.
Shayla Burke, a junior Theater major from Penn Hills, is one student who took the PSATs in order to prepare and described them as “fairly easy.”
“The math portion was a little difficult, but I think that’s with everything,” she said. “I think I”ll be fine with the English, and I’ll just need to prep for math.”
Upcoming SAT dates are March 11, May 6, and June 3. Check online at sat.org for registration dates and practice tests.
Another option for many students is the ACT, or American College Testing. The ACTs and the SATs are two very different tests. While the SATs are more standard and have two math sections, the ACT has an additional science section. Neither is better than the other, they’re just for different people. Many try out both tests to see which is a better fit; many colleges now accept either test.
Scholarships are always a seemingly difficult part of the college process. There are many opportunities online, but it’s often difficult to tell which are legitimate or not. Guidance Counselor Mrs. Price recommended some trustworthy sites to help get you started on the right foot: unigo.com, zinch.com, and fastweb.com.
Another important decision for many students is narrowing down the almost 5,000 institutions just in the United States and the variety of majors – everything from theater to business to chemistry.
Junior Theater major Zack Metrecic from Beaver Falls is one student who has begun this process. “Ideally I’d like to go to USC out in California for film. There are a few other schools in New York, one in South Carolina.”
Colt Slowinski, a junior Health Science major from Midland, also has ideas for his future studies. “I want to go to school for physical therapy, so I’ll do science for a year then go into the PT program.”
Some important questions to answer involve distance, cost, graduation rate, and the majors the school offers. One way to learn about what your dream university might be is by talking to teachers and other college graduates about their experiences. It’s also important to visit colleges and spend time on a campus where you could potentially live for four years.
Of course, the college search is all about finding a field you’re passionate about (and can hopefully earn a living from). Theater majors Shayla Burke, from Penn Hills, and Cody Nagle, from Butler, have a dream together. “I’d love to do acting, but we both sort of have a plan for each other,” Burke explained. “We want to start a business together. A stunt doubling business-agency-thingy. In Canada. So I want to either major or minor in business.”
From the melting pot of talents at Lincoln Park, the class of 2018 is embarking on the challenge of college from all different directions.