Interview with College Counselor John Baima for College Preparation Advice

Grace Lee, News Editor

With the deadlines for the early decision and early action college applications approaching, many seniors are scrambling to write up their applications while finalizing their decisions on what colleges to apply to. The Viking Logue interviewed Fremd college counselor John Baima on some questions regarding general advice on college applications and college preparation. 

Do you have any tips or advice on forming a balanced and fitting college list?

No, I don’t. Here’s a-start earlier, you know, start thinking about it sophomore year. Don’t wait until your first semester of your senior year to try and figure this out. And then, I think if you look at sophomore year, you create a big list and then you whittle it down as you visit schools, as you figure out, kind of, what you want to do and really what subjects you could you excel in, so that way you can whittle it down, and I think probably it’s reasonable to have around seven to 10 colleges, sometimes less, sometimes more. I think that’s pretty reasonable.

Due to the pandemic, many colleges are allowing the submission of college entrance exam scores to be optional. However, none of the Illinois SAT and ACT testing centers got closed this year, and many Illinois students have already taken these standardized tests. Is there a disadvantage for the Fremd seniors that have decided to not take it?

No, not at all. It’s really, you know, if you have a strong GPA, you really don’t need a test score. That’s the best indicator of college success: GPA. So it’s to no disadvantage.

Are there any trends or aspects in this year’s college admissions that are different from the past years you want Fremd seniors to know and keep in mind?

Just the fact that most colleges are test optional, and in-to talk to someone before they make that decision. What I mean is, I want to talk to a counselor- talk to their counselor-before they make that decision on whether or not they’re going to send a score, because, in some cases, if you send the score can be detrimental, in others, it can be beneficial. 

Are there any resources that are available at Fremd in order to help seniors on anything related to college applications?

Yeah, go and see your counselor. I mean we have like-we meet with our seniors. Early on, I think it was the second week of August, with our seniors through the P- through PE, and most of my students have followed up with me because I said hey, you got to make an individual appointment, we need to talk about what’s going on if you need a recommendation, etc. Most of my students have, some haven’t. So that means I have to go chase them. And that’s, I don’t know, that’s really not fair, it’s their decision, it’s a pretty important decision. And that’s my advice-is to keep a cost of communication with the folks that are helping you so parents, counselors, if you ask a teacher for a recommendation, make sure it’s early, but yes, counselors are the best resources here.

Is there any other information or advice you would like to give to the Fremd seniors this year that we haven’t covered yet?

Yes, I think in making this decision, you have to consider factors that are outside of academics. I think those are the most, I think, probably equally as important. You need to have obviously the major study you want at your college, you know, I don’t care about rankings or anything like that. I think if they have your area of study and you’re motivated, you’ll do well. But what’s important is location, activities around activities within the college. You spend only about 15 hours in class in college, as opposed to what, like, 35 here? When you’re in high school with, you know, it’s kind of controlled, it’s a controlled atmosphere, it’s not as controlled in college. So you have-you have to feel secure there, and in order to feel secure, you have to be happy right, what makes you happy, doing the things that you love to do. So those things are equally as important, I think, when it comes to choosing a college.