Meet the Class is back for a third year! It’s an opportunity for parents, educators, and admissions professionals to get a look at individual seniors and what they go through to find their school. Below you’ll meet Jenna. Like a lot of seniors, she has some strong ideas about what she wants, but isn’t as sure about how to get it. Read her full first interview below.
Meet the Class gets updated each month from September to May. Each installment features an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.
Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. Names may be changed to protect privacy.
Jenna ATTENDS A Public HIGH SCHOOL IN Michigan
Tell me about your high school. Is it a "normal," comprehensive high school, or a magnet or charter? How many students does it have? Have you been there for all your high school years, or have you moved there?
I go to a public school in a relatively small city. We don't have many students at our school mainly because there are other bigger and more well known schools around us. We have roughly maybe 800 students, which is fairly small compared to schools who have thousands. I have also been attending this school for all four years of my high school career.
What is your sense of how many of the graduates of your high school go on to college? I don't need the official numbers, just your estimate of the percentage. What kinds of colleges do they go to? When it comes to going off to college, what's "normal" for your high school?
I would honestly say about maybe 80% of the students here end up going to college while the other 20% maybe join the military, go to a trade school instead, etc. The students who go to college are pretty split between community colleges and universities. The "normal" here when it comes to going off to college is that usually a lot of students stay in Michigan. I only know a handful of students who have gone out of state and come home for the holidays.
Is college preparation a big deal in your high school? Do people talk about college a lot? Is it assumed that you will go to college?
The students here talk a bit about college but not a ton. It really just depends who it is because some will talk a ton about the subject and some will briefly touch on it. Most people assume I will be attending college which I do plan on doing come the fall after I graduate.
Here at my school, I would say that we have some guidance regarding college preparations but it is primarily limited to only juniors and seniors. My school offers the options to only 11th and 12th grade students to take an AP course that we might not offer but a nearby school does. These two grades are also allowed to begin meeting with college admissions officers that come to our school to give more information and answer any questions we have.
How much direct instruction about college applications or choosing a college have you got from your school, either from teachers or counselors?
I haven't received much direct instruction about college applications or choosing a college from my counselors who are typically in charge of that. Although I go back on September 3rd and within the following week the 2020 class is set to have a meeting with the schools counselors to receive more information.
Can you think of any good advice you've received about college applications from anyone at your school?
The only advice I can think of that I have received about college applications from anyone is to be open and honest but also apply as early as I can.
Are there any colleges that you're already sure you'll apply to? If so, what are they? Is one of them your "dream school"?
There are a couple colleges I am planning on applying to. They are U of M Ann Arbor, U of M Dearborn, Henry Ford Community College, Central, Michigan State, Madonna University and a few more I can't think of off the top of my head. My dream school is actually Stanford but it’s not exactly an easy choice. Where I come from, there aren't many who get accepted into an Ivy League, I wouldn't be able to afford to attend a University like that, my test scores aren't exactly where I wanted them to be and I’m not sure how I would feel about leaving home. I'm still very unsure of whether or not I should apply but it’s something worth trying still because the worst they can do is say no.
What other colleges are you thinking about applying to, even if you're not sure you'll actually apply?
I have visited a college in Toledo but I don't remember what it was called because I wasn't interested in applying.
What colleges, if any, have you visited or toured? Did any of these tours stand out as being especially good or especially bad?
I have also visited U of M Dearborn a couple of times because I helped a student there with a project that required me to visit every weekend but also I went on an official tour a couple of times.
Because I haven't been on a ton of tours, the ones I have been on were relatively okay. I didn't get that feeling that I absolutely needed to go there but it was just more of a oh okay type of thing,
What are the main things you're looking for in a college?
The main things I look for in a college is definitely prices because I won't attend a college I cannot afford, location is important because I prefer the city and being in busy areas, size of the school as well since I don't want to go to a huge school but also not a small one, what classes they offer in case I change my major, student to facility ratio is important too because I like to kinda get to know my teachers but also being in a bigger class makes it a bit tough to ask questions about whats going on, clubs offered also due to the fact I am in multiple different clubs now and I’d like to join some in college too, academic support services such as tutors etc. and campus safety too in case I'm in a dangerous situation, I know who I can contact.
How involved is your family in the process? Do you have people in your household who went to college, or are you the first?
I live with my mom, and she tries to be involved in the process which I appreciate because this does definitely get overwhelming but sometimes she gets over bearing with the questions that I don't know. For instance, FAFSA. I haven't filled out anything for it yet because I haven't started school for my counselors to talk about it with me and obviously this is the first time I have had to do this so i don't know the process and she expects me to have answers to it all.
As far as the rest of my family goes, none of them have gone to college or have dropped out. I do plan on going and being the first in the family to graduate.
Have you talked with your family about money? Do you know how much you can afford to pay per year? Do you know how college will be paid for?
My mom and I have briefly talked about money. I'm kept up to date always on our expenses so I have a relative idea how much a year we can spend a year. The plan to pay for it besides scholarships is my mom would have to help me and i'd need to get a job. I currently don't work because my mom wants me to focus on my studies for now.
How are you feeling about college applications? Anxious? Confident? Confused? Explain what you're thinking and feeling as you get ready for this endeavor.
As of right now, I'm honestly feeling a bit anxious about the application process. There's so many factors that play in that I have to consider and finding a happy medium will be hard. I'm undecided on what I plan on majoring in which makes things a bit harder. I'm glad I have many doors open right now but it’s also a lot to take in and where to start. I feel like as long as I focus on one thing at a time, it will definitely help ease my nerves during all of this rather than all of it at once and getting overwhelmed.
What do you not know about this process that you wish you did? What would you change about the past few years to be more prepared for this?
I wish I knew more about "The Common App." I'm not exactly sure what it is but I keep hearing a lot about it. I wish I got to know more upperclassmen that were going through this process so I could have a better understanding while watching them go through it all but also doing more research. I feel like through the years I wish I dug deeper into the college search and started doing internships at younger age possibly to have a better understanding.
Is there anything else you want to tell people that I didn't ask?
Something else I would like to tell people is genuinely explore your interests regarding classes in high school or at least start. I took a Mechanical Drafting class as a Junior thinking I'd enjoy it and could possibly be a career option in the future. Honestly the class overall was good but I would not consider it as an occupation after I took it BUT I am glad i figured that out now so I can try something new.
Thanks for reading! If you have college admissions questions for Jenna, leave a comment or email me. You can find other Meet the Class responses here. Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.
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