Seniors working on college applications before Thanksgiving

The days of spring deadlines for college admissions are pretty much ancient history.

Kellie Kiker, the senior counselor at Frenship High School, said the big schools in Texas have moved up their deadlines as a reaction to the requirement that they accept all Texas students in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes. Schools like University of Texas and Texas A&M are trying to get as many of those kids to commit early as possible so they can offer other spots to students not in the top 10 percent or from other states.

While Texas Tech, Angelo State and junior colleges have much later deadlines, Kiker said students who are trying to get into Ivy League or larger Texas schools should be writing admissions essays and filling out applications now.

“To go to the college of your choice, no Thanksgiving pie until you apply,” said Kiker.

Mary Branscome, mother of Frenship senior Hannah Branscome, said her older son’s goal was to start at South Plains College, so she was not very knowledgable about what Hannah needed to get into Texas A&M. When Hannah Branscome went to A&M to check out the school, she sat through a lecture on how to get her application in.

“I think that that preparation has helped make it less stressful,” said Mary Branscome.

Her advice to other parents is to start out getting information from the local high school counselors and then move on to the college recruiters. The FHS counselors made a very succinct list of things to do and deadlines to meet, she said.

“We’re definitely referring back to that,” she said.

The internet also makes college applications a little easier, Mary Branscome said.

“There’s so much more knowledge that’s accessable in a short amount of time,” she said.

Hannah Branscome said while her first choice is to attend Texas A&M, she is also applying at Texas Tech and the University of North Texas. She hopes to study biology as an undergraduate and ultimately go on to medical school to become a dermatologist. Wherever she goes, she will have 33 college credit hours when she graduates from FHS this spring.

While she said her deadline for A&M is Oct. 31, she admitted she doesn’t know the other deadlines.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I was just going to get it all done really fast,” she said. She has one of three admissions essays written, but one of the essays is also optional, she said.

“I’m taking it one step at a time,” she said.

She looks forward to an entirely new experience at college, no matter where she goes.

“I’ve lived in Lubbock since I was two, so I’m kind of ready to just try something new and see what else is out there,” said Branscome.

Miles Johnson is interested in attending Baylor, but is looking at Lubbock Christian University, Tech or Howard Payne as second choices. For him, acceptance and money will be major factors in which school he ultimately attends next fall.

His grandfather, aunt and a cousin attended Baylor.

“It’s always been a part of my family, and so I’ve always been like, it would be cool to go to Baylor,” he said. “And I like green.”

As a fifth-grade student, Johnson said he got a Baylor chair for his room, but he said he is also a Tech fan.

The application process for Baylor was surprisingly simple, he said, noting that Baylor uses the ACT or SAT essays.

Katie Hicks is aiming for Stanford, but she is quick to point out that in Stanford’s admissions literature, it states that only 7.3 percent of all applicants are accepted.

“I decided I wanted to go big,” said Hicks, noting that Stanford has a great biology department, which is her choice for her undergraduate major. Ultimately, she wants to become a pediatric dentist or an orthodontist.

While Hicks said she is trying to be a realist and notes that her admission to Stanford is not guaranteed, she said it has been her first priority this fall to get her application completed first for that school. She also hopes to apply at Columbia and UT.

The application process is nervewracking, Hicks said.

“At the same time, it’s kind of exciting though. You don’t really know, and it’s kind of like your dream. I honestly have the mindset that I’m not going to get in just to not hype myself up for it, so that I don’t completely break down and I don’t know what to do with my life if I don’t get in,” she said.

Hicks said she took easier classes earlier in her high school career in order to be involved in a myriad of activities. As she progressed through FHS, she gradually realized she needed to pick up the pace academically and had to quit activities like tennis and band. She advises younger students to start early on picking a possible major and researching schools that offer excellent programs for that major.

“You have to stay on top of your stuff. You have to know when things are due and what you have to do to get there,” said Hicks. She also advises getting involved in community service, because she said the colleges she is considering all want students who have a background of service.

Jovi Kliesch is still undecided between A&M and Baylor right now, and she admits that where she gets accepted will probably determine where she goes. But she has a unique reason for wanting to apply for as many colleges as possible.

“My parents say they’re going to take me out to dinner wherever I want for every school I get accepted to. So I’m just going to apply wherever I can,” said Kliesch. “We don’t eat out a lot. We eat in. They’re vegetarian.”

The application process for most of those schools is not so difficult, she said. The process at Baylor is particularly easy, she said, but the ApplyTexas.org application is more daunting. That website allows students to fill out one application for all of the Texas public universities, as well as some private and two-year colleges.

“I’m not comfortable with someone judging me by an essay, so it’s really stressful,” she said. “That’s the hardest part for me, getting all my personality and everything into words in an essay that they’ll like.”

Kiker said that as a guidance counselor, she believes applying for college has gotten easier with the presence of the internet for researching colleges and scholarships, as well as filling out and submitting the application online.

“If they were going to apply to five schools earlier, they’d have to do five applications, five fees and send them all off,” said Kiker. “Now they do it on the computer, and do one application.”

The internet has also made it easier for counselors to help students, Kiker said. This year for the first time, she said counselors are putting up all the information they find pertaining to scholarships on the FHS website, so the information is always current.

“I really think it’s getting easier for the students,” she said.

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