The Association of Southwestern University Alumni


A Balanced College Search

Christine Kettle Bowman ’93, dean of enrollment services, shares 10 tips that encourage a calm, balanced college search process. Share this list with a high school student in your family!

As the summer has now officially kicked into high gear, many families and high school students begin to think of college and how they can best prepare for the college application process. 

10.  Read.  One of the biggest changes from high school to college is the volume of reading. It does not matter what is read, just that you read regularly throughout the summer; at least 30 minutes a day.

9.  Write. The second biggest adjustment is the volume of writing that you do and that your voice and opinions are included in that writing. Write 30 minutes per day on any subject you wish to write about…the weather, your vacation, your favorite movie or tv show, something in the news that has impacted you….just write.

8.  Be active in something that makes you happy. Too many students spend time building a resume with things they don’t really enjoy–just things they think colleges wish to see. Do what makes you happy and your resume will fill itself out nicely.

7.  Spend time doing fun things with friends and family. High school gets really busy and schedules fill fast. During the summer, when life it hopefully a little slower, play games, go on a hike, watch a movie and enjoy all of life’s offerings. You might be surprised at the intellectual conversations or fun topics that arise.

6.  Visit a college nearby or as you travel. Looking at colleges does not mean you have to fly all over the country–sometimes you can visit the school in your area to learn if that “type” of school is right for you. Listen to what the students highlight on the tour, what are the admission requirements, what makes the campus different. Gathering this type of information at a local school can make your far away visits more productive.

5.  Get outdoors. A healthy body keeps a healthy mind strong. We spend a lot of time inside sitting during the academic year. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. 

4.  Write a letter to someone who has influenced you in a positive way and say thanks. Technology has diminished the practice of letter writing, but it is an important skill. We also don’t practice gratitude as much as we should. By letting someone know how much they have influenced you, you will build your letter writing skills, lift someone up and most likely, feel a sense of joy yourself!

3.  Speak to someone in a field that interests you to find you what skills are needed to do the job. We often look at jobs and think, “I want to do that” but don’t really have a sense of what the job entails. Do you need technical skills at the beginning of your career? Did you earn a degree in the field or is more important to have a broad skill set to enter this field? What is one thing you wish you had done to prepare for this type of work?  Would a liberal arts education benefit this type of job? Learning about the job and field may open your eyes to what you need to do in college to prepare for the real world.

2.  Get on the communications list of a school you think you are interested in attending so you can learn about the admission requirements, costs and scholarships and financial aid. A college or university can not communicate with you if they don’t know who you are! Visit their webpage or call the admission office and join the communication list. Even as a freshman in high school, you can begin to gather information that may shape your high school career.

1.  Lastly, attend Legacy Visit Day on Friday, July 21. This new program, designed specifically for children, grandchildren, and siblings of Southwestern graduates will allow you to learn more about the college search process and how you can best prepare for the journey. The event is filled with tips to reduce the stress in the college search process. We hope to see you in July! Click here for details.