Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tips For Applying To College

With the Common App released and waiting for you to begin you may be dreading starting your college application process. While the process may seem tedious and daunting by starting early you are already getting a leg up on your competition and will be able to rest easy as deadlines approach!

1. Start the Process Early 

This can not be reiterated enough! Starting the process early will allow you stress free revisions while all of your friends are scrambling to start their final essays. Ideally, getting the basics of the common app complete along with the two (or three) essays they require completed before returning to school will have you way ahead and allow to focus on specific universities supplements! Also, you will more than likely have your college counselor grinning ear to ear.

1. 5 Triple Check The Word or Character Limit of an Essay Before Beginning

Nothing is more frustrating during the college application process as writing a 1000 word essay only to realize the limit actually said 1000 characters. That is time that was wasted where you could have been completing a supplemental essay instead of trying to get your 1000 words scraped down to 1000 characters.

2. Find Someone To Proofread All of Your Essays

Personally, I had an amazing college counselor through my school. Maybe some of y'all don't' have that luxury however, it is crucial to have a person who can consistently proofread your essays time and time again. Mom and dad are great but lets face it, they would go easy on you and those reading your essays at the university of your dreams might not be as much of a softie for grammar mistakes and not fully elaborated experiences!

3. Be Sure To Apply To Schools You Could Actually See Yourself Attending

This should be a no brainer! Why take the time to apply to a school that you can't see yourself attending, especially if you've toured it prior to making that decision. You are wasting your time and potentially taking the spot of someone who is dying to go to that university if you apply.

4. Have a Backup or "Safety" School

I don't care if you are a genius or not, having a back up / safety school will surely give you some piece of mind. For you that may be an in state institution or a public university in another state, thesis a school that you have no doubt you will get into!

5. Ask People To Write Your Recommendation Letters As Soon As You Know You Need Them (beat your friends to it so yours is at the top of the stack and won't be generic)

If you have completed your application early on then you will quickly realize that recommendations are another important part of the process. Asking your favorite teacher or sports coach before other people have even started the application process will allow you a very personal recommendation returned to you on time. Just like you don't like receiving assignments last minute, your recommender does not want a days notice before your recommendation is due. By giving them plenty of time they can think through all the positives they wish to discuss providing you with a stellar recommendation.

6. Send Your Resume Even If A School Doesn't Ask For It

Most schools are going to ask for your resume (address, school organizations and positions, academic honors, extracurricular honor, community involvement) and if they don't send it any way! This is your chance to brag on your personal achievements during high school so proudly send it!

7. Keep Track of Deadlines and What You Have Completed

If you are not organized then you need to fix this problem quickly. Use your planner and write down when applications, supplements, and recommendations are due! By having a visual of this information you are more likely to remember these dates and not scramble around 20 minutes before they are required to be submitted.

8. Look For Ways to Share The Same Information with Multiple Schools

A lot of what you will be sharing with schools are pretty typical things that all the university you are applying to would like to know! If you can use a paragraph from a different school's supplemental essay in another essay then go for it as long as it flows. You want to make sure you are doing this to better describe yourself and not just add in information because you are feeling lazy and tired of writing!

I hope this helps out any seniors preparing their college applications!
Good Luck!


  1. great tips Dorothy! I'd also add to go on tours to each school if possible! Actually seeing the school made such a difference for me when I was applying for undergrad!

    Makeshift Munch

    1. I was just about to comment this! As a person who now works for a small liberal arts college, the best tip that I can give any high school junior or senior is to visit schools in person. Otherwise, you're going to end up somewhere you hate.

  2. Thanks so much for these tips, these are going to be so helpful for me when I apply to college.

  3. As a recent college grad, I totally agree with all your tips! One thing that I would add though is that while it's good to use the same content for multiple schools, applicants should definitely make sure that they don't accidentally use the wrong school name in any sort of application essay! My friends who work in admissions have actually told me that this happens a lot. This goes along with your point about proofreading heavily!

    Great post :)
    - Ashley

  4. These are awesome tips! I would only add 3 things.
    1) DO NOT send the exact same essay to more than one college. By writing a general essay meant for more than one college, it can sound distant and fake. If you do this, you aren't actually writing to anyone specific and (unless you are an absolute writing pro) is really obvious you didn't tailor your essay specifically to this school. 4 out of the 6 schools I applied to had similar essay questions so I wrote one outline for the prompt and then wrote different essays with the same concept, but tailoring them to the specific school. (I got accepted to all 6 schools, so I guess it worked!)
    2) TourTourTour! I used my junior spring break to tour a bunch of colleges and highly recommend doing this. The major reason is that, since college and high school spring breaks are often different, this is one of the only times you will be able to see these colleges 'in action' without missing a bunch of school. You also are able to directly compare the schools because you are seeing them so close together. I saw 5 different colleges on my break and it definitely helped me figure out what kind of school I was more interested in attending.
    3.) While I think taking the school's official tour is a must, if you know any current students at a school you're interested in, get them to give you a tour too! School tours definitely focus on the positives and skim over any potential negatives (however minor they may be). You don't always get a fully accurate picture of student life. By getting a friend to give you a tour, you get an honest picture of the school and life as a student without any sugarcoating from the admissions department. Still do the official tour though because they will give you some valuable information you might not get from a student!

  5. Truly these all are very effective tips for applying to college because already I have heard that couple of students have got success by following this tips. So I think everybody should follow this for getting college admission easily.

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