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College application expert offers tips for seniors building their portfolio

Posted at 6:59 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 06:59:52-04

ROCKFORD, Mich. — It’s back to school and this year’s seniors are looking back on a high school career unlike any other.

The pandemic started when they were freshmen— meaning this is the first almost-normal school year they’ve had since middle school.

It’s a busy time of year for kids trying to figure out their next step; many sending out applications, essays, and letters of recommendation if they’re hoping to try to get to college.

Olivia Bommarito and Liam Peterson are two seniors at Rockford High School who both have their sights set on big things after they graduate.

Both are involved with just about every extra curricular in the book at RHS and hope that involvement might help give them a leg up with where they’d like to go.

“I want to go somewhere big, I’m thinking U of M, Grand Valley, maybe Western,” Bommarito said.

“Right now I’m thinking of Michigan and Michigan State,” Peterson said.

It’s an exciting time for both, but also a daunting task to get rolling on their applications.

Their four year experience, different from most graduation classes. COVID sending them home for the better of two years, and interrupting their normal learning process.

“Online it was definitely hard to focus and pay attention and stay in your room for hours. It was definitely a struggle,” Bommarito said.

And now the pandemic is playing a role in how seniors apply for college.

Kristen Fauson, Founder of Launch College Consulting has seen the effects COVID is having on college applications.

Many schools are now test optional, meaning you don’t have to submit an SAT or an ACT score to apply. That’s good news for students who aren’t good test takers, not so good for those who are.

Kristen says take the test anyway in the chance you score better than what the school typically takes. For students who didn’t score well, it puts more pressure on the essay portion.

“Write about something that isn’t heavily covered somewhere else already in your application, like if you were really involved in theater, you might not want to write specifically about theater in your essay,” Fauson said.

If learning from home took a hit on your grades, Fauson says to try to use the essay portion to explain that.

“Explain what you learned about yourself, how you’ve moved forward, how things have changed, especially if you have an increase in grades since then,” Fauson said.

“That’s something colleges look for.”

For Liam and Olivia senior year is bound to be busy. Kristen says do the work to apply now, so students don’t get bogged down with essays while also taking exams and in the height of their extracurriculars.

These two have their sights set on big things after high school, and are well on their way.