By Heather Breed, Director of Freshman Admission
If you have a high school senior who plans to attend college, then you are in the thick of application season. It’s a time of deadlines, checklists, and perhaps some handwringing.
As the mother of an aspiring undergraduate myself this fall, I try to remember what I tell the parents and students I meet with here at North Central College: Choosing a college isn’t an end goal. It’s an exciting beginning—one that starts with questions: Do I want a big school or a place where faculty will know my name? A city or small town, or something in between? What are my interests inside and outside the classroom?
Unlike high school seniors during the pandemic the past two years, students this fall have more opportunities to answer such questions by visiting colleges in person. A campus tour is the best way to get a “feel” for a school before applying.
North Central offers several ways to walk our beautiful campus and meet students, faculty and staff, as well as see downtown Naperville and our proximity to Chicago via Metra. On November 8, our “Visit Day” will offer students and parents the chance to go on an overall campus tour and attend specific sessions for liberal arts, STEM and health sciences pathways, business, and education. In addition, we offer individual tours every weekday and host small group visits on Saturdays. A virtual tour is also available at northcentralcollege.edu/visit.
The physical environment and program fit are important. So is having a sense of feeling welcome and supported. After a tour, ask your student: Can you see yourself there? Would you feel like you belong while also being challenged to meet others who have different perspectives?
When deciding where your student will apply, don’t dismiss a school just based on the tuition and housing “sticker” price. A misperception is that private schools are always more costly. But the final price can come down considerably after subtracting merit aid, based on student achievement, and financial aid, based on need.
Your student should note the application deadlines and requirements for each school they’re considering. North Central reviews applications on a rolling basis. There is no deadline. We require submission of an application either through the Common Application (commonapp.org) or at www.northcentralcollege.edu/apply. A student may also request an application by mail. Separately, we require an official high school transcript.
Increasingly at schools, including North Central, submitting standardized test scores like the ACT and SAT is optional and does not disqualify an applicant from merit scholarships based on high school coursework and grade point average.
At North Central, a student may choose to submit a personal statement or essay, letters of recommendation, and documentation of extenuating circumstances that may have impacted their high school experience. Once we have received a complete file for admission, applicants hear from their personal admissions counselor in two to three weeks. If they’re admitted, they also learn about any merit scholarships at that point.
We do have individualized applications for international students, veterans, graduate students, homeschool and students who have attended North Central before. There are many paths to earning a college degree, and we are happy to accommodate whatever path your student chooses.