Don’t Get Intimidated By College Applications!
Submitting an application that ultimately determines the course of your future can be extremely intimidating—especially when you’re filling out multiple applications. Don’t let that freak you out, though! Mastering college applications is simple if you take some of these tips into consideration.
- Start Early
When you’re busy balancing classes, sports and other activities, filling out applications is the last thing you want to do when there’s free-time. Get started early into your junior year before school gets hectic and premature senioritis kicks in.
One thing to do ahead of time is figure out what type of application each school requires. Majority of universities accept the common application but not all, so knowing beforehand will allow you to prioritize time better. This is also a good time to contact those you’re asking recommendation letters from so they know the time frame they have.
- Applications Get Costly
College is expensive and those costs start before you even begin attending! Most applications will cost around $30 to $50, but some come closer to $100 depending on the type of school. This can burn a major hole in your wallet if you’re applying to multiple schools.
Make a list of any schools you’re considering, and then cross off any that might be far-fetched or you couldn’t see yourself actually attending even if accepted. This saves money and leaves you with a condensed list of schools that are more of a reality, providing more time to improve applications that really matter.
- ACT? SAT? Or Both?
Just like with determining the type of application each school requires, it’s also important to find out what tests scores each asks for. Many will only ask for a score from one test, but with the ACT gaining nationwide popularity, asking for both scores isn’t uncommon.
Not what you wanted to hear, right?
Educate yourself on each test and prepare to take both. There are thousands of books out there to help, but I highly suggest tutoring. My mom enrolled me in an ACT prep course a few months before I took the actual test and although I dreaded going, my score improved by eight points at the end. That doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a huge difference since the test is only out of 36 points. A lot of exposure to the different test structures will make you more comfortable when it comes to the real thing.
- The “E” Word
Essays—you either love them or hate them (but likely the latter). Probably the most time-consuming part, essays are your chance to wow and persuade the application reviewers. To stand out among the other applicants, start writing the essays early to ensure time to edit and revise them to perfection.
Look over all the applications and see the exact essay requirements for each—it’s not unlikely that an essay you write for one will also work for another. Many ask for generic topics about someone who has influenced you, future endeavors or an experience that changed your life. Since these are common questions, you can usually use the same essay for more than one application. If you do this, just be wary of any words you might have to change that are specific to where you’re applying (such as the name of the school).
When it comes down to it, the key to successful applications is providing enough time to organize everything. Crunching results in tiny mistakes that could cost an acceptance letter. Get determined, not intimidated.