Ultimate DECA Member College Admissions Q&A

Melissa Patrocinio | Power Trip Power Team

For many DECA students, college is just around the corner and when considering everything that’s involved in the transition from high school to college, it can be overwhelming.

Luckily, at the 2017 Ultimate DECA Power Trip, some college admissions counselors shared their top tips and tricks to college applications and answered some of the most popular questions relating to college with an interactive Q&A.

Being able to know the experts’ two cents makes the process seem less daunting and even exciting!

1. What do colleges look for in high school applicants?

  • Ambition

It’s always great to see a student excited about going to college. Having an optimistic attitude towards education is valuable, but having a sense of strategy when it comes to collegiate goals is invaluable.

  • Hard Work

The only way to thrive in anything is to work hard, and college is no exception to this. Students need to be driven and be willing to work effectively.

  • Community Oriented

Typically, when a new college student begins, it can be for them to be so focused on their own success that they don’t have the time or energy to invest in the community in and outside the campus. Being able to balance your personal tasks and time for others is critical.

2. What did you wish you knew going into college?

  • Be open minded.

In college, it’s important to know that you can still decide what you want to pursue in the future. While it’s important to have direction, allow yourself to explore different interests.

  • Have a plan!

Start thinking about college as early as possible in high school. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, be sure to make decisions about which colleges to apply to, when to apply, and why you’d like to apply. Even if you’re decision is go into college undecided and find a major with more time, it’s okay as long as your choices are intentional.

  • Find a mentor.

It’s a good idea to speak to a school counselor or upperclassmen about college. Having someone reliable and knowledgeable to mentor you is a great way to be more confident and informed about your college decisions.

3. When and how should you start communicating and/or networking with alumni?

  • The earlier the better

Students that are eager to learn and apply skills is one of the best ways to increase your workplace aptitude. Internships and jobs can be first come, first serve, so getting your foot in the door sooner than later is a good idea.

  • Interview professionals

Talking to professionals in the field(s) you would like to pursue allows you to see what it takes to get that dream job. These can be conducted before you even choose a major to see which direction is right for you.

  • Participate in Career Fairs

Lots of high schools have Career and College Fairs. DECA even offers some events with college booths like Power Trip and ICDC, among others. These can give you insight into various colleges from more authentic perspectives.

  • Join LinkedIn

Meaningful connections can be made when you network with colleges especially before you’re even accepted into a college. This may be a good way to let universities know you’re interested in attending them and shows that you have initiative.

4. What stands out on a college application?

  • Find something that sets you apart.

Colleges notice when you have an uncommon interest, skill, or quality. This might mean you made varsity football your freshman year, but for most of us, a leadership position might be more feasible. Whether you were a VP in your local DECA chapter or you’re second chair in the orchestra, just ensure your leadership is effective.

  • Be unique in your application.

Don’t write your application essay on anything generic or cliché like how your life has been like a baseball game and each milestone is a base. Try something different. Talk about experiences that are exclusive to you that no one else could write about.

  • Do your research!

Learn about the colleges you’re applying to and let them know in your application that you’re serious about applying by letting your knowledge of the school show throughout the application.

5. How important are recommendation letters?

  • Super Important!

Not only do the majority of universities require recommendation letters, but it lets the school know more about you from a figure of some importance. Don’t limit recommendation letter writers to just teachers but ask faculty members from your school or even a manager from your job, just stay far away from friends and family.

  • There’s no need for more than two recommendation letters

When it comes to recommendation letters, quality is monumentally more important than quantity. In fact, having more than two letters is pretty much useless. Do not submit more than two letters unless the additional letter(s) refers to something that isn’t covered in the rest of your application. But the rule of thumb is to only include two recommendation letters.

Thank you to the following panelists for sharing such awesome information with us:

  • Tim Desch, M.Ed., Assistant Dean at Arizona State University
  • Rachel Nieman, Undergraduate Recruitment Specialist at West Virginia University
  • Brad Walp, Executive Director of Enrollment Management at Cornell University
  • Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D., Assistant Director of Student Services and Outreach Management at Rochester Institute of Technology

This article was written by Power Trip Power Team member Melissa Patrocinio. You can follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa_Patro.

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