Applying to college can be a daunting process.
Applications, essays and financial aid forms add up to plenty of paperwork. And then, there’s the wait. All told, it can take several months – and plenty of stress – before a student finds out if they’ve been accepted.
Calé Clark knows firsthand what it’s like to play the waiting game that goes with applying to college.
“The process was pretty long,” Clark reflects. “And then financial aid was about a month long, to see how much I got approved for, and then books, and then classes…it was pretty hard.”
While she waited nervously to hear back from a school, Clark’s coworker told her to try Alverno College.
The Milwaukee school is speeding up the enrollment process. Once Clark heard about Alverno’s new “Fast Track days,” she applied.
“I asked them, ‘do I still have time to fill out the app?’ And they said yes. And I was like, okay! I’m on it!” Clark giggles.
The college hands prospective students when they show up for the speedy process. It starts: fill out an application, submit high school transcripts, meet a counselor, and so on.
They do have to put in some work ahead of time, gathering transcripts and completing a financial aid application.
But once they arrive, it’s a one-stop-shop that takes about an hour – perhaps especially good news for people making a last-minute decision.
“We wanted to do something that really addressed the fact that people were still thinking about college, and really weren’t sure how to do it right before the school year started,” says Kate Lundeen, Alverno’s vice president of enrollment.
“Often the admissions and particularly financial aid process can be so confusing or feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be, especially if you have a team of people who know how to do it well,” Lundeen explains. “We really do this on a daily basis for students, so why not put it together as an event?”
It’s a four-step process.
First, a counselor reviews the person’s application and academic record.
If Alverno cannot admit a student, it gives her what’s called a “refuse/refer” – usually a suggestion for where she could complete prerequisites -- and an invitation to come back and reapply, once she’s ready.
If students are accepted, they move onto the financial station, where aid specialists enter a few numbers into their computers for an estimate.
Natalie Jaskie, Alverno’s assistant director of financial aid, says most students will need to finalize the estimate. But it gives them an idea of what aid they’re eligible for, often the most time-consuming part of the application process.
“Life can get in the way sometimes, I think, of going several days, having an appointment with an admissions counselor, having an appointment with a financial aid advisor,” Jaskie lists. “It would be difficult to find the time to get that done, so it’s nice here they can come in, get everything done with the help of somebody.”
Advisers are also on hand, to help students figure out what classes they’ll need.
Calé Clark got accepted to Alverno, and won some scholarship money too. She’ll start the nursing program this fall.
“I can tell coming here today that it’s very hands on, and that’s what I really like,” she says.
Clark is one of 18 new students Alverno enrolled in just two days of its “Fast Track” process. Leading organizers say they hope they can host more of them throughout the year.