5 Tips for Completing Your College Applications
5 Tips for Completing
Your College Applications
’Tis the season for gingerbread, cheesy Christmas movies, and for Michael Bublé to bust out of hibernation. But if you’re a high school senior, it’s also the season of college application deadlines. Most universities require your final submission by January 1st. So if you wait until the last minute, it can really put a damper on your holidays. To help you out, we’ve rounded up a list of 5 tips for completing your college applications.
1. Proofread, proofread, proofread
It’s important, so we wrote it three times. Any typos (even small ones) immediately land your application in the deny pile. So reread it a hundred times. Then have your dad, mom, aunt, uncle, third cousin twice removed read it over. If you’ve been staring at a screen for eight hours, try printing your essays and reading them on paper. Often you’ll catch things you’d didn’t notice on your laptop. This process can be overwhelming, but the more eyes you have on your application, the better chances you have of catching mistakes.
2. Do your research
Each university looks for different criteria. Maybe one university really cares about “demonstrated interest,” (meaning the school is nervous about accepting students who won’t end up going). They want you to “demonstrate interest” (i.e. take college tours, seek out interviews if they are available etc.). Do your research on each school. Know why you’re applying and why you’re passionate about going there; you’ll often be asked to elaborate on that passion in your supplemental essays. If you haven’t done the research, it’ll be immediately obvious.
3. Think carefully about where you apply
It’s easy to dream up a list of your top schools. It’s harder to craft a strategic list of where you should be applying. Ideally, you should have two or three safety schools (places where you’re confident you can get in), two or three possibles (places you can probably get in, but you’re not sure), and a couple of reach schools (places that’ll be harder to get in, but it’s worth taking a shot anyway). It’s tempting to try and cast a wide net. However, a few applications that you spend time on will be more effective than twenty applications you quickly dashed off.
4. Don’t recycle supplemental essays
Every school will ask for specific supplemental essays and provide specific prompts. A big part of what they’re looking for here is how well you answered the question. That means that you should write a new unique essay for each supplement.
If you wrote an essay for one school answering the question, “What is an obstacle you encountered?” don’t submit the same essay for a question that asks “How do you tackle challenges in your life?” Of course, feel free to reuse some of the same ideas, but tailor each essay to respond to each specific question.
5. Take a deep breath
This is an incredibly stressful time, but it’s also full of possibility. So take a deep breath. Everything will work out. If you’ve worked on college essays for five hours straight, take a break and treat yourself to a hot chocolate. College applications are important, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of your personal identity. Although sometimes they can feel like that. So work hard and keep an open mind. And then don’t forget to enjoy the holidays with your family.