Why apply to college? Our counselors share their answers

November 1, 2023 Planning for College
Granite Edvance college and career counselors standing around a desk

Granite Edvance’s education and career counselors have assisted thousands of young people with their college applications over the years. They all have stories of going the extra mile to help a student meet a deadline, overcome an obstacle, or celebrate a success. Here’s what some of them had to say about applying to college.

Why apply? Why not?

A lot of young people don’t apply to college because they’re uncertain about their future or worried about finances. Granite Edvance Education and Career Counselor Eric Lofstedt, who works with both high school students and adult learners, tries to turn that logic around.

“I always tell people, you apply because you never know what the outcome’s going to be,” he said. “It might be a financial reach, but you don’t know how much aid you’re going to get.”

Applying makes it real

Granite Edvance Education and Career Counselor Lily O’Connor works with a lot of high school students who are thinking about college but aren’t sure where to begin. Maybe they’re the first in their family to apply, or they’re dealing with too many pressing problems to look that far ahead. 

By giving students a place and time to work with her on their applications, she helps bring the idea into focus. “We see a lot of students who are scared to even look at a college application,” she said. “We just sit down with them and guide them through it.”

Applying is committing – to yourself

To be clear, you’re not committing to any particular college when you fill out an application – nor are you even committing to going to college. What you are doing is committing to your future. And that’s an important step, said Granite Edvance Senior Education and Career Counselor Karen Collins. 

Karen remembers working with a young person who wasn’t sure he had the grades for college. She encouraged him to apply to community college, and he went on to complete school and start his own business. 

 “I kept telling him, ‘If you want to go to college, go to college,’” Karen said.

At the college crossroads? Here’s some insider advice

So you’re ready to apply to college. Or you’re thinking about applying. Or you’re thinking about thinking about applying. Wherever you are on the journey – it’s okay! College is a big decision. To help you with it, we reached out to some of our partners around the state to share their insights and experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

Doug Cullen, Manager of Career Services, Pinkerton Academy
With little money saved and little understanding of how to fund his education when he applied to college, Doug Cullen decided to attend school at night and work full-time. It was tough, but it paid off. He met his future employer during one of his night-school classes, and that first job led to a 23-year career in high tech. The employer also ended up paying for most of his undergraduate work. Today, Cullen helps young people make college and career choices that will pay off. His advice: “Carefully research your college choices not only through the lens of major, but also using a perspective of ROI (return on investment),” he said. “Make every effort to gain field/work experience in a career related to your desired college major in advance of going to a college, possibly even in advance of applying to a college. This experience will help confirm the desired major is a good fit and potentially strengthen your professional network.”

Julie Lanman, Director of Admissions, Saint Anselm College
Julie Lanman wasn’t sure she wanted to go to college. “Now, I work at a college and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “I am so grateful for all of the experiences I was given while in college.” In her role, Lanman knows how overwhelming it can be to decide on a future pathway. “There is a ton of information coming at you from all different directions,” she said. “Find a way to keep yourself organized and on a schedule.” Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. “Admissions counselors love working with students. It’s honestly the best part of our job,” Lanman said. “Call or email us. We want to hear from you.”

Kenneth Ferreira, Vice President of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, Student Financial Services, Franklin Pierce University
Kenneth Ferreira’s mom graduated from college when he was in the 7th grade. “I followed in her footsteps on the path to a better life,” said Ferreira, who has been working in student aid for 25 years. “I could not afford to live on campus and so I had to work and commute. I worked two, sometimes three, part-time jobs.” Now Ferreira helps students who face similar challenges. “Not all students take the same road to get to the end goal,” he said. “Sometimes paths look different and require creativity.” Once, Ferreira worked with a student who was living in a homeless shelter and had no help from his family. “We had to get very creative not only for the student to live on campus year-round, but also to pay the bill as an independent student who had been left to fend for themself,” Ferreira said. “Today, this student is a successful mental health counselor who specializes in youth. Being a small part of that journey is an absolute highlight of my career.”

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