Tips for Jump Starting your Future


MHS Seniors show off their college choice; clockwise from top left, Danie Hoffstadt, Ryan Scott, Taylor Shanahan, Jenny Nayden, Celeste Cruickshank and Adriana Feijoo. Photo collage submitted by Adriana Feijoo.

Adriana Feijoo, Business Editor

As senior year quickly approaches, the stress and pressure of choosing what the next four years of life are going to look like can be very overwhelming. Throughout the process, it is very common to feel alone and unsure of what to do.

“I think I could have received more advice and guidance regarding my major, colleges that best fit me and the classes that should prepare me for that.  I think Naviance, [an online program that helps students plan for life after high school], is a great program to use for college, but a computer only helps so much. Sometimes you really just want someone to sit down face-to-face and help you make decisions and explore different options in such a stressful and important process,” said Senior Kaitlyn Watkins, who added that MHS prepared her academically and taught her how to be independent in her studies.

During the college research process, it all comes down to whether or not students take advantage of MHS resources, such as the College and Career Resource Center, the Literacy Center and the guidance counselors who are able to help. When it comes to having questions about anything related to college, it is extremely important to ask for help and to realize it’s never too early to start this process.

MHS College Counselor Andrea Rusk recommends that students start their college process as early as freshman year. She encourages freshmen and sophomore students to begin visiting nearby universities, such as Illinois State University or Bradley University, to get a feel for the type of university they want.

When selecting a college, it is critical that students are comfortable with the environment that the school provides. Whether it be a large public school with 45,000 students or a smaller private school with 7,000 students, going to a school that feels right is necessary.

When selecting her school, Senior Stacie Ko, soon to be a freshman at Indiana University, said she used the following criteria when choosing Indiana: Size, environment, campus, classroom size, extracurricular activities, programs the school offers that were most beneficial to her and tuition cost.

Keeping these criteria in mind, it is essential for students to make sure they can be successful at whatever school they choose.

“The people you go to school with should be a reflection of the type of person you are,” said Rusk.

A good way to make sure the fit is correct is to look into the GPA and ACT/SAT scores of the school’s admitted students. If a student is at least two points above or below the average scores and GPA, the student should be successful in that particular academic environment.

Because standardized tests are such a large part of admissions, making sure students are prepared and pleased with their score is also important.

“The ACT, as much as it sucks, is one of the first things that identify you on a college application. It is important that you put your best foot forward on the application with your ACT score so that they can focus on your essays and more than just your standardized test scores,” said Senior Delaney Appelhans.

MHS also offers standardized prep courses. More information on when these courses run can be found at the College and Career Resource Center and the Literacy Center.

Besides seeking this information, students can attend college presentations at the College and Career Resource Center, visit their counselors for any college-related questions and drop in at the Literacy Center for help on any essay or application question.

“We can help with college essays, personal statements, resumes to send to colleges; we can help with scholarship essays, we can help with filling out the actual Common App, and we can help with finding teachers to write letters of recommendation,” said Anna Grig, Literacy Center Instructional Assistant.

In addition to all the resources MHS already has to offer, Rusk has recently created the College Ambassador program to help ease the college preparation process for the next generation of Mustangs.

“The College Ambassador Program is a group of seniors who have learned a lot throughout the process of applying for colleges and want to share that knowledge with others. We hope to inform juniors on the best way to go about applying and how to best prepare them for everything,” said Senior and College Ambassador Rachel Hansen.

MHS is continually adding more resources to make the college research and application process easier for students. If you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, visit Rusk in the CCRC.