College and Career Success Tips for DECA Members
As a student organization, DECA focuses on preparing high school students to be the next generation of leaders and to succeed in all phases of life, not just high school.
The College and Career Success workshop, a part of the College Learning Lab at this year’s Ultimate DECA Power Trip in Boston, Mass., covered valuable points on the application process, scholarships and choosing the right college and major for you. The workshop consisted of a panel of college recruiters and representatives from The Art Institutes, FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Johnson & Wales University.
When applying to many different schools, the application process for each can be different, however many schools require an essay – the most important part of your college application. Your college essay allows the reader to get you know you further than what is on your application. Your essay should make yourself stand out and make the reader want you at his or her school. It is important to understand that the reader of your college essay has many to evaluate, so it is important that you grab the reader's attention in the first few minutes and stick out in his or her minds long after they’ve put your application down.
What if you don’t know what colleges or universities to apply to because you don’t know what you want to major in? In order to find the right major, ask yourself these two questions:
- What are my interests?
- What do I want to do with my life?
Think about what makes you happy and go from there. Kathleen Bergeron, a high school representative for The Art Institutes, put it best when she said, “By choosing the right major and college and doing what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.”
After deciding a major, begin to research colleges or universities that offer a major(s) you’re interested in. Picking a college is a personal decision, so go visit and experience it in person! Seeing a school online does not help you picture yourself there like physically visiting one does. Collegiate DECA Vice President, Thomas Fitzpatrick, discussed his own experience visiting colleges and said, “as soon as I stepped foot on the campus [University of Massachusetts Dartmouth], I knew I wanted to go there.”
Scholarships are, many times, the deciding factor in which college or university one attends. “Attending college is a huge financial commitment,” said Brandon Appel, an enrollment/recruitment coordinator with FIU.
“Many are eligible [for scholarships] but don’t know it,” added Tom Gauthier, director of educational partnership and scholarship programs at Johnson & Wales University.
Do your research and find out what scholarships you are eligible for. Thousands of dollars worth of scholarships go unused year because students didn’t apply for them. Simple research can pay off, but you have to take the initiative and hunt for the scholarships.
Gauthier ended the workshop with one final piece of advice to the members listening. “You’re the driver. You decide in which direction to go.”
Many times the transition between high school and college can be a hard one, but taking the initiative now in choosing and applying for the right school can take a heavy burden off of you and your family down the road.
Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerMcBeeDECA.