Making a list, checking it twice
KMC high school students

Monica Mendoza, Story and photo
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Just thinking about the college application process can be daunting for some high school students.

But high school counselors say the best place for students to begin the
search for the right university is right in their own imagination.
Students can start by simply asking themselves, “What am I interested

“A pitfall is viewing the process as so complicated that you don’t ever
start,” said Jerry Oyan, Kaiserslautern American High School counselor.

This is the time of the school year when high school students should be
visiting their high school counselors, looking through the College
Board College Handbook and preparing their college application
packages. Many colleges and universities have Jan. 1 deadlines for
applications and scholarships.

“Ideally, students should have their applications out before Christmas break,” Mr. Oyan said.

Even if a college has a “rolling application,” which means applications
are considered as they come in year-around, students should be in the
final stages of preparing their applications for the 2006 fall
semester, said Ramstein American High School counselor Fred Lopez.

“The earlier the application is in, the greater the chance of getting financial assistance from the school,” he said.

KAHS senior Erik Coppen didn’t know where to begin when it came to applying to colleges, he said.

But, he knew he wanted to design and build ships. That was a great
starting point to sit with his counselor and find a college that has
just the right program, Mr. Oyan said.

“We’ve got checklists to help kids narrow what kind of school they are looking for,” Mr. Oyan said.

In 2004, nearly 60 percent of high school graduates from Department of
Defense Dependent Schools planned to attend a four-year college or
university, which mirrors the national average from all public high
Nearly 30 percent of DODDS-Europe students earned state or institution
scholarships in 2004 and 27 percent earned Reserve Officers’ Training
Corps scholarships.

“Our kids really understand how competitive the admission process is,” Mr. Oyan said.

KAHS senior Brian Hill, who has applied to several universities
including Oklahoma State University, said students should just plunge
into the college application process.

“The longer you wait the easier it is to just push it back,” Hill said. “Just sit down and get it done.”

Here are some guidelines:
– Meet with your high school counselor immediately.  “It can be
scary,” Mr. Oyan said. “But it can be very exciting and the payoff is
an open door with lots more open doors after that.”
– Make a list of colleges you want to apply to and get a hardcopy of
the application by requesting it from the college or by downloading it
from the Internet. Avoid only applying online, Oyan said. “The old
fashion letter in the mail still gets the better bang for the buck,” he
– Research the college program, tuition and other costs — including
state residency requirements for admission and tuition — available
scholarships and financial aid. Most importantly, know all the
deadlines. Students should keep their parents in the loop, but “Parents
should allow the student to make the final decision, or at the very
least make it a joint decision so that the student feels he has some
control over his own future,” Mr. Lopez said.
– Make a “brag sheet” or a list of your achievements.
– Request at least two teacher recommendation letters, even if the college application does not ask for them.
– Write down a few paragraphs about what you expect to do with a
college education and career goals. This will help get you started with
essays required for some college applications. “Colleges assign those
to see how well kids write and communicate,” Mr. Oyan said.
–Work with your counselor on your cover letters. Make sure the letter
includes a story that illustrates what you have done, instead of just a
list of items.
– As soon as parents receive their annual tax statements in January,
students should complete the U.S. Department of Education’s Free
Application for Federal Student Aid, this can be done online at