College admissions season means an abundance of emails from colleges all across the country. Some of them talk about the assortment of majors they offer or the amount of financial aid. Then there are the emails that include the word everybody loves to here, FREE! Yeah, that’s right. As a high school senior, you will get tons of emails offering you “free” applications to schools you may or may not have heard of. It seems simple enough–just fill out the application and add one more school to your list, right? Before you go and fill out those free applications though, there are some things you need to consider.
They Aren’t Completely Free
Most schools consider a copy of your SAT or ACT scores and these schools are usually no exception. While it seems as though the application processes for these school are completely free, it turns out that they actually aren’t. While this shouldn’t completely discourage you from applying to these schools, it should be something to remember.
Is It Really Worth Your Time?
Filling out college applications can take quite a bit of time. If you already have your list of college applications prepared, do you really want to add more? By adding more colleges to your list, you might have to write more essays and spend more time filling out basic information. Is it worth it?
By adding more colleges to your list, you are then adding to the number of schools you can be accepted to. By doing this, it can be harder to make a decision in the long run. Adding more choices to your list can make life much more stressful. If your college list is big as it is, adding to “free application” schools may only make life harder.
What Do They Have To Offer You?
Before taking the time to apply to these schools, look at what they have to offer you. Do they have your major? Are these schools within your price range? These are two very important questions to answer before proceeding with applications. Take time to do a bit (okay, maybe a lot) of research on the schools. See if you’re actually willing to go to the school if you get accepted.
How Do Grades Match With the School?
You don’t only need to do research on what the schools have to offer, but how you match with them. You need to decide whether or not the schools are safety schools, matches, or reaches. Once you know this, look at how many schools you already have in each of those categories. If the “free application” school is a reach school, then it might be better to save your time, unless you are truly interested in the school. Again, you don’t want to end up having too many schools to choose from.
If you’re the type of person who wants to visit every campus of every school they apply to, then you need to make sure you think before accepting these free applications. Applying to more schools means adding more to your list of schools to visit. What does that mean? It means more money towards traveling.
While we all love to hear the word “free,” sometimes it isn’t as good as it seems. Of course, these “free application” schools aren’t lying when they tell you their applications are free. But what they don’t tell you is about the extra time you’ll need to spend filling out these applications. They also don’t mention the added stress that might appear during decision time. Finally, they don’t mention the cost of sending your test scores or the money you may need to spend to visit their schools. While these are some of the negatives of applying to a school that sends you a free application, don’t let these completely discourage you. By doing some research, you may find that you are a completely in love with one of these schools, and that’s okay. Before you apply to any schools that give you a free application, though, make sure you do some extensive research and that you’re going to be happy with your decision.