West Seattle High School

West Seattle
High School
College & Career

College Resources and Visits

West Seattle Student College Resources

Here are some websites to help you search for and find information on colleges

Undocumented Help:

Most colleges require that you apply online

Review college websites for application information and the current year application. Be sure you follow all procedures and submit all documents by the due date. Watch for the actual time that an application is due (e.g. If it is due at midnight EST, that means it is due by 9:00 PST).

Tips to strengthen your application for admission:

  1. Take academic coursework beyond core/required classes
  2. Take more challenging courses when available (Honors, Advanced Placement etc)
  3. Take the time to present yourself well in your application. This means giving yourself plenty of time to write your essays!
  4. Continue working hard throughout your senior year

Providing the following information about you may also strengthen your application:

  1. Information that helps the college understand your academic choices and grades
  2. Information about any “risks” you have taken such as participating in an exchange programs, standing up for your beliefs, accepting new challenges, adjusting to new environments etc.
  3. Information about how a hardship in your life has affected your academic success in school
  4. Information about specific qualities you possess that will benefit the college community, such as contributions to multiculturalism, athletic, musical, artistic or other unique talents you possess.

Essays: Many colleges, both public and private, require one or more personal essays. The essay should give the college a better picture of you as a student and as an individual

Tips for writing your essay:

  • Be passionate about what you write
  • Answer the question and demonstrate how well you think as well as how well you write
  • Don’t repeat what is included in other parts of the application by making your essay a second resume
  • Don’t select topics the bore (i.e. the social problem of the year), irritate (a hot political topic) or suggest that you don’t see the world beyond high school
  • Do proofread and ask someone to proofread for you
  • Don’t make careless mistakes
  • Stay away from vague examples
  • Write about what you know
  • Be authentic – use personality! Show that you bring lively and exciting flavor to the classroom
  • Realize that humor can be difficult to pull off in an essay. Don’t try to be funny if that is not your personality
  • Keep the topic small so that you can effectively deal with the material
  • If you write about parts of your life dealing with issues around drugs, divorce or depression , be sure to evaluate and reflect rather than simply relaying information
  • Write in the first person – let them hear your voice!
  • Remember that the essay is being ready quickly and for a general impression
  • Don’t be afraid to use a second page rather than compressing words
  • Make it easy to read
  • When you are finished, make sure you can say “This sounds like me”

Top 15 Essay Tips from Readers

  1. View it as an opportunity. The essay is one of the few things that you’ve got complete control over in the application process, especially by the time you’re in your senior year. You’ve already earned most of your grades; you’ve already made most of your impressions on teachers; and chances are, you’ve already found a set of activities you’re interested in continuing. So when you write the essay, view it as something more than just a page to fill up with writing. View it as a chance to tell the admissions committee about who you are as a person.
  2. Be yourself. If you are funny, write a funny essay; if you are serious, write a serious essay. Don’t start reinventing yourself with the essay.
  3. Make it fun. If you’re recounting an amusing and light-hearted anecdote from your childhood, it doesn’t have to read like a Congressional Act — make it fun!
  4. Tell us something different from what we’ll read on your list of extracurricular activities or transcript.
  5. Take the time to go beyond the obvious. Think about what most students might write in response to the question and then try something a little different.
  6. Don’t try to take on too much. Focus on one “most influential person,” one event, or one activity. Tackling too much tends to make your essay too watered down or disjointed.
  7. Concentrate on topics of true significance to you. Don’t be afraid to reveal yourself in your writing. We want to know who you are and how you think.
  8. Write thoughtfully and from your heart. It’ll be clear who believes in what they are saying versus those who are simply saying what they think we want to hear.
  9. Essays should have a thesis that is clear to you and to the reader. Your thesis should indicate where you’re going and what you’re trying to communicate from the outset.
  10. Don’t do a history report. Some background knowledge is okay, but do not re-hash what other authors have already said or written.
  11. Answer each school’s essay individually. Recycled “utility essays” come across as impersonal and sanitized. The one exception is an essay written for and submitted to Common Application member schools.
  12. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Nothing says “last-minute essay” like an “are” instead of “our” or a “their” instead of “they’re.”
  13. Keep it short and to the point.
  14. Limit the number of people from whom you request feedback on your essay. Too much input creates an essay that sounds as though it has been written by a committee or results in writing that is absent your own voice.
  15. Appearances count. Formatting and presentation cannot replace substance, but they can certainly enhance the value of an already well-written essay.

Essays in the Summer

BigFuture CollegeBoard Essay Tips 

Sign up Sheets are posted outside counselor’s offices or email Stacey Fernandez.

The following schools will be visiting WSHS on the below dates and times:

Seattle Pacific– 9/28 at 9:00 am

University of Nevada Las Vegas– 10/3 at 1:30 pm

Loyola Univeristy, Chicago– 10/5

Gonzaga University– 10/12 at 1:45 pm

College & Career Fair- 10/18, Lunchtime in the gym

Willamette University– 10/24 at 11:45 am

Vassar College– 10/25 at 1 pm

Knox College– 10/27 at 11:45 am

  • Asking for Recommendation Letters

Academics get asked to write a lot of letters of recommendations, and we are pleased to do this! Letters of recommendations can be really, really important when students are applying to grad school, or applying for scholarships. 

Strong letters can make a big difference , and that means it’s essential that students approach this with seriousness, maturity and professionalism.

  1. Plan ahead: Ask for letters well ahead of the deadline!  Never, never assume your teacher/staff member will have the time or inclination to write a strong letter if the deadline is two days away.  Give lots of advance warning (at least several weeks).
  2. Ask nicely. Approach your teacher (in person, if possible; with a telephone call, or over email), explain what you are applying for (and why), and ask whether s/he might be willing to write you a letter of support.
  3. Ask what kind of letter you might get! You need to know whether it’ll be a strong letter, or one that is perhaps less in-depth.   In many cases, if I’ve only met a student in one class, and only have a grade to base a letter on, then I won’t be able to write a strong letter.  You deserve to know this, and it may affect whether or not you should ask someone else.  Don’t worry – most Academics are able to be honest (and nice) about what kind of letter they might be able to write.  You must find out, early on, so that your chances of success are as high as possible.
  4. Include ALL the relevant details, in one well-composed e-mail:
    • What you are applying for (in appropriate detail – don’t just say “I’m applying to Western”)When you don’t know your teacher all that well, remind them who you are: it is helpful to state what course(s) you might have taken with the Professor, in what context, how you did in the class, and anything else to help those old minds recall who you are!.  You may think that your instructors remember you well, but this is not always the case (we see hundreds of students each year, and we are all getting older…),Provide a ‘statement of interest’ to give some context to why you are applying for a particular position or scholarship, Provide the deadline for the letter! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to email  a student to ask them what the deadline is.  It’s annoying having to deal with email overload, especially when it is avoidable. If there are PDF fillable forms, or web-links for the reference, make sure to include these! If the Professor is going to get an email from an Institution to which you are applying, make it clear that they should expect this.
  5. Follow-up! If you haven’t heard anything within a week of when you sent your one e-mail, stop by the teacher’s office, or give a phone call, to make sure that s/he received the details.
  6. Make it easy: Always make the process of writing a letter of recommendation as easy as possible. In many cases PDF fillable forms have parts that are to be filled out the by candidate ahead of time – do this!  For hard copies, make sure to fill in parts that you are supposed to, and always include a stamped envelope with the address written out.  It’s YOUR job to ensure the letter gets sent by the teacher! If you are required to pick up the letter and send it in as an entire application package, provide two envelopes – one for their confidential letter, and another that they can slip the official envelope into – arrange a system by which you can pick up the letter.
  7. Send a reminder… A few days before the deadline, send ONE reminder e-mail – politely remind your teacher that the deadline is approaching.
  8. Say ‘Thank you’ – It is classy and professional to say thanks to whoever writes letters of recommendation for you.  If your application ends up being successful, or you get that scholarship, you can even send a post-card, or a short thank-you letter – that leaves a very positive and lasting impression (and you never know when you will need another letter…). As a minimum, send a short ‘thank you’ email.