Abel Alfonso

My Senior Year Adventure: Applying to College

Abel AlfonsoHello everyone!

An even bigger hello to all those high school juniors and seniors reading!

Welcome to my weekly blog about my adventure through the college application process.

I am, Abel Alfonso, a senior from Seneca Valley High School interning at Montgomery Community Media. I first joined the internship program, because I wanted to experience television, a profession in which I was interested. I chose the field of television over other fields, because I love to entertain people and to see everyone smile and have a good time. I want to participate in producing entertaining material that appeals to audiences of all ages.

I also enjoy the technical aspects of television such as editing, writing and producing. My internship at Montgomery Community Media offers me the chance to be exposed to such an environment. I previously was trained over the summer at MyMCMedia to use the editing software. Through my internship I want to work with professional producers who can teach me and engage the detailed process of creating programs and airing them.

Throughout this academic year, my fellow Seneca Valley High School senior, Courtney Lee, and I will be creating weekly blogs to help fellow teenagers and a video blog about what’s on the minds of everyone at Seneca Valley High School. I’ll be writing a weekly series of blogs detailing the college application process and giving some helpful advice as I learn and experience it. I hope these blogs will be a great help for all of you fellow seniors throughout Montgomery County who are just starting the college application process and are filling out those many forms.

I’m sure you and I will be very busy during the next several months looking at and applying to colleges. Yes, it’s very overwhelming. Please, believe me when I say that the college application process can go “as smooth as butter on bread,” if you know what you want and what you’re doing. So, let’s get started, together.

The Beginning: Oh, Where Do I Start!

Where do I start, indeed! This question is probably the first one to come in mind to anyone who wants to begin applying to colleges. That’s the place where I was when I first started. All the talk about SATs, ACTs, transcripts, recommendations, in-state, out-of-state, fees and the whole “college lingo” drove me crazy! Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would even have enough time to do all of this stuff. Then, I decided to take things slowly. I knew there were things I had to get done for any college application. One of those very things to get done was entrance examination testing: SATs and ACTs.

Tests: From A-Z to 123

We like our weekends just like we all like tests, right? Yeah, I thought so. Yet, taking the SAT I and the ACT early can greatly benefit you as you prepare to apply to colleges. I strongly recommend taking the SAT I http://sat.collegeboard.org/home and ACT http://www.actstudent.org/ at least once in your junior year! Taking either test for the first time during senior year is NOT the best idea!

Many colleges who do Early Action or Early Decision (go to http://professionals.collegeboard.com/guidance/applications/early and http://voices.washingtonpost.com/college-inc/2010/10/10_colleges_where_youd_best_ap.html) have a date set on November 1st. If you take an ACT or SAT I in the fall, you will be “cutting it close.” You want to have enough time to study for these exams and to have time to re-take them if you feel the need.

What test should you take? Well, that depends on what the college accepts and what type of test you are best at taking. The SAT I http://sat.collegeboard.org/why-sat/topic/sat/what-the-sat-tests has 10 sections and that includes the essay. Each section is about 10-25 minutes each. The SAT I also requires that you write one well structured essay in 25 minutes. If you write well and you are strong in grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, the SAT I may be right standardized test for you!

Please, make sure that you know that most highly competitive colleges will require one (1) SAT I examination and three (3) SAT II subject examinations! If you use the ACT most colleges ONLY require the ACT and NO additional examinations. Again, make sure you know which tests the colleges prefer and require! Then, take the tests that are best for YOU!

The ACT has four reading intensive sections that are broken into subject areas:
English http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/engdescript.html,
Mathematics http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/mathcontent.html,
Reading http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/readdescript.html,
and Science http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/scidescript.html.
There is also an optional written essay http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/writingdescript.html. In my opinion, the SAT focuses on critical thinking and applying your knowledge whereas the ACT is generally straight-forward and focuses on what you have learned in school.

Familiarize yourself with both these tests: SAT I, SAT Subject Examinations and ACT. Take a practice test for each type of test. Explore which test you are most successful in getting your highest score. If you want to know how ACT and SAT scores compare, go to http://www.act.org/solutions/college-career-readiness/compare-act-sat/.

Only you know your strengths and weaknesses! Don’t hesitate to ask your counselor with any questions. It does not hurt you to take both the SAT I and the ACT! Many colleges accept both the SAT I and the ACT. These tests help to show colleges an aspect of how well you can potentially do in various college subject areas. Remember to understand your own test-taking skills and to decide what test is best for you as well as when it is good for you to take your test(s). Also, if you need financial assistance to take these examinations go to http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-fee-waivers for the SAT I and http://media.act.org/documents/feewaiver.pdf for the ACT. Then, contact your high school counselor for help with these forms.

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About Abel Alfonso

Abel Alfonso is a senior at Seneca Valley High School interested in the technical aspects of television. He completed MCM’s Backpack Journalism Academy this past summer and is looking forward to creating more news packages for MCM’s website.


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