By The Plaid Horse Intern Morgan Bullock
Applying for college can be a daunting task, especially if you aren’t exactly sure what you’d like to do in college, or where you want to go. There is also the question of whether or not you want to ride in college, or focus on school. There’s a few simple steps that you should follow to help you make your decision.
First, you should decide something you’d like to major in at college, or a field of interest you want to study. This will play a crucial part in picking your school, since some schools offer different areas to study, as well as having strengths and weaknesses. Once you have an idea of what program you want to be in, you can narrow your search to which schools offer that program, as well as the quality and strength of that area.
Now that you have a pool of schools that have your program, you can start thinking about whether or not you’d like to ride at school. There is NCEA, which is NCAA sanctioned, that places you against another rider on the same horse for the competition. These teams are pretty tough to get on, so you need to make sure to send film and make contacts with these coaches early. You may have heard that these programs are going to be dropped by NCAA, but most schools are not worried about losing their riding programs, and if this is what you’d like to do, I wouldn’t hesitate to pursue these teams.
Also, you can go the IHSA route. IHSA is a luck-of-the-draw style horse show. Most IHSA teams also give you the opportunity to ride on the ANRC team, which requires that you bring your own horse. You don’t necessarily have to own this horse, you can borrow from your school or lease one. ANRC has 3 phases, a flat phase, equitation style course phase, and a hunter derby style phase. From what I have heard, this is a really fun team to be on!
On another note, if you don’t really want to be on a competitive team in school, or would like to branch into a different discipline, there is plenty of inter mural and club teams at schools, which are low-key and fun ways to enjoy your extracurricular time in school.
Once you have narrowed down your schools that have your desired major and riding program, you can start applying to schools. Keep in mind you have to pay an application fee for these schools, so if this will be a problem you should really have a small selection to apply to. The common application can be helpful, since you pay a fee once and then can send the same application to multiple schools.
After you’ve sent the application, make sure you also send your test scores as well as have your guidance counselor send your transcript to them. You should also try to apply to those school’s scholarships, because every cent helps. My advice is to apply for as many scholarships as you can, because a lot of times you will get them because other people won’t apply for them. It’s free money!
Your guidance counselor should be a good resource to help you with the process, or any college grads you know. The most important thing about college is that you should try to get the most out of it you can, so make sure that you focus on what you want to do and where you want to spend the next four or more years of your life. Good Luck!