Ask the Alumni

By Jacqui McLean

As seniors prepare for college, the most important thing on their mind is college applications. The long process of writing essays, explaining accomplishments, listing personal information, and gathering letters of recommendation proves to be quite a drawn out struggle. Many of us seniors begin this procedure with very little guidance, feeling our way through the process. It would be great to know what strategies work best and how other students have succeeded in the past. Lucky for us Westmont Warriors, there are many alumni that have already succeeded in the college application process and are now thriving at their college of choice. The following alumni have provided some of their best tips. 

What college did you go to? 

Thanks to our amazing alumni, we have responses from students who attended UC schools, state schools, private colleges, and out of state schools. Some of these colleges include UCSD, San Jose State, Seattle University, and more. 

How many colleges did you apply to? 

Out of the responses received, the average alumni applied to 14 schools! 

Why did you choose to apply to the schools you did? 

Most alumni chose to apply to schools based on their location, the size of the school, likelihood of acceptance, and academics. 

Who was the most helpful to you when applying to colleges? 

There was a common consensus among AP Lit students that teacher, Andy Evans, was incredibly helpful with college applications. As well, students often received help from their other teachers, family members, and counselors. 

What advice do you have about writing application essays? 

While some applications do not require essays, the alumni who did submit essays provided some helpful advice. 

“My biggest piece of advice is to answer the prompt by telling a story. Make your essays as creative as possible so they stand out and are remembered!! College admissions wants to read something that only you can write and that entertains them as well as lets them get to know you a little bit.”

“Write about something meaningful to you! I think an authentic story that you are passionate about is much more valuable than a story that you think will look impressive on an application. And on a more specific note, don’t forget sentence patterns!”

Do you have any advice on how to pay for college or how to ease the financial burden? 

“Out of state scholarships are easier to obtain than in state ones. Once you’re in college, apply for EBT! It is given out pretty readily to college students, and the application is quick and easy. Since it gives you money for groceries, that’s one less payment you have to worry about.”

“Apply for any type of scholarship, loans, or grants that are available to you because in the end it will only help you with paying for college. There is no reason to not try and get a scholarship, loan, grant, etc. You might not get it, but at least you can try and possibly pay less money.”

Thank you to the Westmont Alumni for sharing their insightful tips.