Students, counselor talk college prep ahead of high school graduation

Each agreed that college essays have been the most challenging part of the application process.
Both students are about to transition from high school to college.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 7:45 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:16 AM EDT
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MATTHEWS, N.C. (WBTV) - Queens Grant High School seniors Nasya Allen and Natalie Goodfellow are not only student-athletes but bright scholars who are getting ready for the next chapter in their educational careers.

Both students are about to transition from high school to college.

“It’s kind of like a surreal feeling. You don’t expect it to come so fast,” said Goodfellow.

Allen explained that going to college will not only be a personal accomplishment, but a family milestone.

“I’d be first-gen in my family to go to college, so incredibly important that I do that and set an example for my siblings, but also myself,” she said.

Both students said they have applied to several schools. Each agreed that college essays have been the most challenging part of the application process.

“I thought I would write my college essay and, you know, that would be done. I didn’t realize each school that I applied to then had three, four more,” Goodfellow said.

Sandy Ubriaco, Queens Grant’s college counselor, said the essay is her favorite part of the college application. She noted students should use the essay to explain what makes them stand out from other applicants.

“The essay can tell a school ‘What is it about this student that is not in their transcripts, that is not their applications that really says this is why I need to be on your campus,’” explained Ubriaco.

The counselor offered several tips for high school students who are getting ready to begin the application process. She noted that students should try to take a manageable load of rigorous courses because colleges like to see that students have challenged themselves.

The counselor said she also advises students to focus on working hard with a few different extracurricular activities rather than joining a bunch of clubs and doing the bare minimum in each one.

“I think schools are looking for kids with a purpose, somebody who brings something to the table. They’re going to go to school and not just take classes; they’re going to be a part of that school community,” said Ubriaco.

The counselor also recommended that high school students consider taking college courses while they are in high school if they want to knock out general education requirements, save money, or determine whether they want to pursue a specific field.

Ubriaco said her most important piece of advice for students is to focus on sleep and mental health.

Goodfellow said she’d advise her younger classmates to take advantage of college visits.

“Personally, I know I’ve had a lot of experiences maybe at schools I would never go to, but they’ve invited me to, you know, come for the weekend and do interviews and it’s just a great experience no matter if you see yourself there or not,” said Goodfellow.

Allen said she would caution other students not to rush their high school careers.

“It’s important to prepare, but also enjoy your years of school because they go by really fast,” said the senior student.

NC Countdown to College from the College Foundation of North Carolina supports college access every October.

Many North Carolina colleges and universities will waive application fees during College Application Week in October.