sophia gutchinov 2Sophia Gutchinov, above, survived the challenges of the college-application process. Siani Henriques, below, is contending with them now. (Photo below by Isabel Halloran. Click to enlarge)

Red Bank Charter School Intern

Siani HenriquesSophia Dadap, of Red Bank, is a 16-year-old senior at RBR who has done everything she can to make herself attractive to colleges.

 A creative writing major, Sophia has built up her applications by serving as the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. She been been active in many clubs, participates in the National Honor Society, plays sports, does volunteer work and tutors.

Sophia says it’s best to stick with activities like these for all four years of high school to show your commitment and dedication to learning, and show how diversified you are, which colleges like to see.

Still, Sophia has found the process of applying for colleges  time-consuming and challenging.

“The applications are stressful because it can be expensive, having to pay to put an application in at a school,” she says.

She is not alone. Locals seniors are finding that applying for college is hard in many ways.

Another Sophia — 18-year-old Sophia Gutchinov, also of Red Bank — applied to 19 schools before ending up at Marymount Manhattan College.

“The process is one of the most stressful things I have ever done in my life,” she says. ” Each college can ask a series of distinct questions, so it is time-consuming.”

There are two ways to apply to college. You can apply early decision or regular decision. Sofia Dadap has applied early action or early decision to three colleges. This means that you’re applying earlier than the regular college application admission date. However, some schools have a binding contract when you apply early action. If you are accepted to a school early action or early decision that has a binding contract when you apply, that means that you are “bound” to that school. In other words, you will have to go there, and there is no way out of it.

Sofia applied early action to Rutgers, Fordham, and Boston College; she has been accepted at Rutgers and Fordham College. None of these colleges have binding contracts.

Something that has assisted Sofia through this process is the Common Application, or the Common App. The Common App  is a widely accepted college admission application that applicants may use to apply.

Sophia Gutchinov also applied early action to a few schools. “To be at peace, I did early action, so I knew I was going to end up somewhere,” she said.

Siani Henriques, 18, also a creative writing major at Red Bank Regional, says that applying to college definitely includes stress, “but a lot of this stress can be avoided if you start the application process early.” The process of deciding which schools to attend, and displaying yourself well to schools on a piece of paper are equally important and challenging, Siani said.

Siani has applied to Emory University, Brandeis, the College of New Jersey, DePaul and others.

“I decided to apply to these schools based on a multitude of different factors, ranging from the diversity of each institution, the average size of each school’s classes, the variety of academic majors and minors offered, the location, and what percentage of the incoming students’ financial need is generally met,” she said, adding that she wanted to apply to schools that would offer her a “stimulating academic experience.”

Sofia’s last piece of advice was to “form good relationships with your teachers.” It helps if you are on good terms with them, because then when it comes time to get a recommendation letter, you will have many teachers saying positive things about you, which makes your application look even more attractive, she said.

RBR Principal Risa Clay notes the school also offers summer classes that sophomores, juniors, and seniors can take to help them prepare for the application process.

All three young women have concluded that the process is definitely stressful, and it takes time to fill out each application. The key is to have patience, and remember to participate in activities that will make your application attractive to college.

Isabel Halloran

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