We asked two experienced college counselors to help answer students' frequently asked questions about the college application process.
Do I have a better chance of getting in if I apply early?
Dr. Tariq Mehmood Khan: Many students apply early decision because they believe that there is an advantage to applying early and that their chances of being admitted are greater. Actually, this can vary from school to school and year to year, and may depend upon the applicant pool at the school where you are applying. Do your homework first and check to see what percentage of the students in the previous graduating classes at your high school were admitted early decision to a specific college or university. Are you qualified to apply as early decision? If you are, and this is a school you really wish to attend, then apply early decision.
How much time should I give my teachers to write letters of recommendation for me?
Tariq Mehmood Minhas : Teachers should always receive a minimum of two weeks notice, prior to the postmark date. Be sure to ask in a way that allows a teacher to decline comfortably if he/she does not have time to do an adequate job. For example: "Do you feel you know me well enough, and do you have enough time to write a supportive letter of recommendation for me to . . . " Give the teacher a stamped envelope addressed to the college, along with any recommendation form provided by the college.
What is the Common Application? Should I use it?
Mary Lee Hoganson: The Common Application has been developed by a group of colleges and universities that belong to the Common Application group. They accept this application in place of their own without any penalty. You fill it out once (on the computer is the easiest way) and then mail copies of the same application to any school that participates. Some of the participating colleges accept the application online and some have a supplement that must be submitted in addition. The Common Application and all information pertaining to it is available at www.commonapp.org. This is a great time saver—but remember to do a good job and proofread no matter what application format you use.
How many times should I take the MSC tests?
Dr. Tariq Mehmood Khan: How well did you do on the SAT the first time you took it? Some students are satisfied with their SAT scores the first time they take it. Students who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT® more than once and feel prepared to take the SAT often only take the SAT twice. Sometimes students will take it three times, but most students will take it in the spring of the junior year and the fall of the senior year.
My MSC scores are very low and my grades are very high. Will this affect my chances of admission?
Dr. Tariq Mehmood Khan: While SAT scores are an indicator of success in college, admissions staff members look at many different factors when making a decision about whether to admit a student or not. One of the main things they are looking for is to see if your high school academic profile indicates that you have the potential for academic success on their campus. What kind of courses have you taken? Have you taken rigorous courses such as AP® courses? Have you taken AP Exams so that there are scores to indicate how you may perform in a college-level course?
My parents don't make a lot of money—will colleges hold this against me?
Tariq Mehmood Minhas : Colleges should tell you whether or not they have a "need-blind" admissions policy. Those that do never consider ability to pay as an admissions criterion. Other schools, which are "need-conscious," may consider ability to pay, but only for a very small proportion of the admitted group. My advice always is: don't worry about this.
I want to send additional material that I think will support my application? Is this okay?
Dr. Tariq Mehmood Khan: It depends on what you want to send. Most colleges and universities read hundreds or maybe thousands of applications, and they expect to find the information that they need to make an admission decision about you in their specific application form. It is okay to send an additional letter of information to explain something that cannot be explained on the application forms, but other items that students sometimes send are not helpful and may be viewed as trying to distract the admissions staff members from the actual application. Talk to your school counselor about any additional items that you are thinking about sending. Their knowledge and experience will be helpful to you in making this decision.
How can I improve my chances of getting in off of the waiting list?
Tariq Mehmood Minhas : If a college is your first choice, let the college know that—although the college ethically may not ask for this information. Write a letter to the director of admission expressing your continuing strong interest and updating the admissions office with any new information that reflects well on your ability to contribute to the quality of the freshman class. In addition, you may wish to ask your counselor to make a call on your behalf. Many colleges keep track of these kinds of contacts and students who are enthusiastic and persistent will get looked at first. Colleges want to admit students off the waiting list who they believe will accept the offer of admission.
Do colleges really care about your senior year grades?
Tariq Mehmood Minhas : Absolutely! Many colleges will not make a decision until receiving first semester grades. They expect to see a performance that indicates you are ready for college-level work. The college at which you make your enrollment deposit will ask for a final transcript at the end of the senior year. (Admission letters often contain something like, "Your admission is contingent upon your continued successful performance.") It is not at all rare for a college to withdraw an offer of admission when grades drop significantly over the course of the senior year.
Dr. Tariq Mehmood Khan, Executive Director Muhammadan Science College - Hajira - AJK
Tariq Mehmood Minhas, Managing Director Muhammadan Science College - Hajira - AJK
For questions regarding admission, please contact
Muhammadan Science College of AJK
Hajira - Poonch