Planning for life after high school can be overwhelming and intimidating! There are various pathways available for students including technical/vocational certification programs, enlisting in the military, directly entering the workforce and starting their career, or working towards a degree; an associates degree at a two year community college or bachelor’s degree at a four year college or university. Each student must evaluate their interests and career goals to determine which trajectory is the best fit.
For students with career goals that involve undergraduate education, we’ve compiled some resources to assist with some of the steps for applying for college!
Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor.
For many codas navigating college resources may be very different from that of their parents, or perhaps the journey is new to all those involved- there are many different sources of support available. Begin with your guidance counselor at your school; they have a wealth of knowledge and resources that can assist you with the application process.
Set up a meeting with your guidance counselor as early as your freshman year. During this meeting take the time to discuss your schedule and ways to maximize learning opportunities. For example, you may ask about taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses which may be used to meet requirements for undergraduate courses (which helps to reduce financial costs of college). This is also a good time to share with your guidance counselor that your family will need interpreters for school events, including college night parent meetings or conferences. We have some great resources in our back to school packet for requesting interpreters in the school system. This will ensure that both you and your parents have access to the information shared.
After your initial appointment you should continue to meet with your guidance counselor throughout your high school career to discuss your future plans and goals. You also want to start thinking about potential funding sources like scholarships and grants. As you become an upperclassman, asking your guidance counselor to assist you in creating a timeline for the application process can be helpful making an overwhelming process more manageable.
Things to consider when picking a college.
It’s time to think about what field or fields you would like to study during your college career. While some codas go into fields related to deafness or the deaf community, many do not! In fact, when it comes to choosing professions, Codas are truly everywhere! When thinking about a major, consider what you are passionate about- what do you enjoy doing or learning about? If you are undecided about your major, do not worry- many students begin their college journey as ‘undecided’ and begin the first year taking several introductory courses before they make a decision.
There are a lot of things to consider in choosing a college: location, fields of study, social opportunities, cost and more. Make sure you think through this decision! You’ll want to do your research about each. Some questions to consider; do you want to go to a public or private institution? Do you prefer larger or smaller class sizes? Is it important that your new school has ASL and deaf studies classes, deaf faculty, or an ASL club? Developing a list of the priorities you’re looking for as well as creating a pros and cons list is a helpful tool for evaluating these choices.
If you are looking to go to a school that would provide a continued relationship with the deaf community, consider schools like California State University Northridge (CSUN), the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Gallaudet University. These are institutions attended by both deaf and coda students that offer opportunities for learning and socializing using ASL. At Gallaudet, you can apply as part of their Hearing Undergraduate (HUG) program to study various fields like Deaf Studies, Biology, or Business. If you are interested in ASL interpreting, the Bachelors in Interpretation is another option. If you are considering a college or university in particular, let your guidance counselor know, they can invite them to your school’s college fair or set up an individual visit (virtual or in person) with them.
Setting up a campus tour is a great way to learn about the school, surrounding community (including the local deaf community), and whether or not you feel it is a good fit for you. If your college choices are too far away to visit in person, many schools have virtual tours on their websites as well as student ambassadors that are able to answer any questions you may have about campus life.
Creating your college resume.
Putting together a resume is a great way to highlight your skills, experiences, and abilities for prospective employers, college admission counselors, or scholarship review panels. Take a look at this simple list of resume tips to help put together yours! Committees are interested in learning more about you as a person, outside of your academic accomplishments. In fact, Crimson Education, one of the world’s leading college admission consulting agencies, believes involvement with extracurriculars have strong influence on the admissions process. It is never too early to participate in activities that can help you get noticed. Here is a list of ideas:
Volunteer work and community service communicates to committee members that you will be a contributing member of their campus community. It shows that you are well-rounded in your interests and passions. Begin building a history of service before you start applying for college. Consider your particular interests and skills. For instance, you could volunteer at the local school for the deaf or deaf club, or deaf senior citizen group, or look into an internship with a deaf or coda organization. These are just a few ways you can give back to your community.
Another important facet of the application process is showing off your leadership skills. A good way to do that is by taking part in student organizations in your high school. Not sure if you’re a fan of any of the current clubs at your school? Create one based on any of your interests or passions! Creating an ASL club would encourage language practice and cultural understanding at your school. You can also demonstrate leadership outside of school through work experience. Working as a counselor or a counselor-in-training at one of the KODA camps would be a great place to develop and grow your skills!
Before you apply for college, take a look at the list of requirements needed to apply. Colleges and universities often use standardized tests as one way to evaluate your preparation for college. The three most common standardized tests are the SAT, the ACT, and AP exams. College admission boards will weigh your results heavily in considering your admittance.
To make sure you do well, take advantage of any test preparation classes or workshops your school offers by reaching out to your guidance counselor, or look into taking test prep courses from outside companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review. After you’ve completed your exam and received your scores, you may also decide to review and retake the exam. Your test scores can help you to identify areas of weakness, and additional study or prep classes can help better prepare you for additional attempts.
Navigating the Application Process
Many schools are utilizing the Common App for submissions, a great resource for first time college applicants. The site breaks down the application process step by step and guides you through each one, as well as resources for transfer students. Below are tips to help you navigate the process:
Asking your teachers to write you a recommendation for college can be an intimidating experience. When selecting a teacher, it is important to consider asking those instructors with which you have the strongest connection. Many teachers prefer to write recommendations over the summer, so you should prepare to approach them at the end of your junior year. In addition to making this request, you should also share your college resume with the teacher. This information can guide the teacher in formulating a recommendation that highlights your strengths inside and outside of the classroom.
Statement of Interest/Purpose
Along with your academic performance, extracurriculars, and service; the essay portion is key to making yourself an attractive candidate. In writing your personal statement, consider what makes you unique. For instance, how has being a c/koda offered you unique perspectives and insights? How has it shaped you as a person? Craft an essay that showcases your personality. Once you have a draft completed, be sure to enlist a teacher or mentor to take a look and provide any feedback if needed.
Not all colleges host interviews but if you can schedule an interview- do it! This is a great opportunity to indicate your interest in the school, provide more information about yourself, and stand apart from other applicants. Don’t forget: not only is the school interviewing you, but you are interviewing the school to see if it is the right fit for you. Check out some of these helpful interview tips to prepare.
One of the toughest things about applying to college is navigating the financial costs. A crucial piece of your application may be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These forms will help you to identify whether you qualify for financial aid. The process can be a bit complicated, and you’ll need to have information about your family. Fortunately, there are a number of resources that explain financial aid as well as guide you through the process. Also remember that federal aid isn’t the only funding that is available for financial support.
Additional funding sources
Funding for school is never easy to come by. Whether filling out the FAFSA, applying for student loans, or seeking out scholarships, the financial aid process can feel overwhelming. We have curated a list of scholarships specifically geared for codas. Another good tip is to search online for various grants or scholarships that may apply to you, for instance there are scholarships available for bilinguals, as well as special funding for first generation college students. Initiate a conversation with your guidance counselor – they have access to databases for funding and may be able to identify scholarship opportunities on your behalf.
We hope that you find these resources helpful in navigating your post-secondary journey! If you have any tips or resources you found beneficial please share them with us at oneKODAheart@gmail.com so that we can add them to our list! Looking for educational resources but not old enough to go to college just yet? Check out our back to school resources for different strategies to interact with your local school system.