You’ve been on this path for as long as you can remember. You’ve made friends, attended class, completed homework assignments, participated in clubs and sports and went to school events and dances. All for what? Well, for what’s ahead of you of course! Everything you’ve done and accomplished to this point is in preparation for the next step of your academic and personal journey. And that next step starts with your college application (que ominous music).
In all honesty, the application isn’t and shouldn’t be a daunting task. If anything, it allows you to be an artist creating a masterpiece of your own life’s work. We in admissions want to see the things you’ve accomplished and achieved, though it’s important to know there is a fine line between having a sound, constructive application and a messy, dysfunctional one. And though you may feel challenged to open up in your application, I hope that these recommendations help throughout the planning process!
Step 1: Investigate – ask yourself, “What’s most important to me?” You’ve collected countless brochures, burned your eyes surfing through websites and out-stepped your smartphone pedometer taking tours all in hopes to find the feel (community maybe?), fit (location, size?) and features (major, research, amenities?) pertaining to your interests. Now take that a step further – utilize the immediate contacts around you. Admissions counselors, current students, alumni and faculty are all great resources to gather more information about the application process, such as if applications are reviewed holistically or tests are super-scored. Information can change more quickly than a website, so be sure to connect with a campus contact whenever a question comes up. Don’t be shy – we want to hear from you!
Step 2: Have a Plan – soon enough you’ll be in the midst of senior year trying (and hopefully) winning the battle of senioritis. But that doesn’t mean your daily responsibilities end. However you chose to, organize a plan to be up-to-date on reminders and deadlines to ensure no one part of your application goes unaddressed. The use of electronic calendars and notifications are great technological resources to keep track of what’s next. If that’s not enough, never underestimate the power of a sticky-note! When requesting a letter of recommendation, give your recommender adequate time to write and submit your letter; request your transcript to be sent early giving admissions enough time to process it; be conscious of the early action and regular decision application deadlines; and know how and when to access scholarships. You aren’t just planning for acceptance; you’re planning for possible attendance.
Step 3: Review, Relax, Return – you’ll be staring at your application long enough that one of two things will happen: 1) you’ll drive yourself crazy or 2) it’ll all start to blur together. Review your application to make sure you’re connecting the dots and wrapping up any open-ended ideas. Don’t hesitate to take a step back from your application to breathe. Let someone else (or a few people) read through your application before submitting just to get other eyes and a new perspective on it. Remember, this is YOUR story to tell, but having input from others can help catch the little things that you may have overlooked.
Step 4: Re-review and Edit – your application is like a puzzle; you put it together and it won’t be complete if you’re missing a piece. Go through your application with a fine-tooth comb, make sure all sections are filled correctly, verify there aren’t grammatical errors and confirm it demonstrates an accurate representation of you. Once that last piece is in place, take one final scan to ensure it looks right. Don’t forget to admire what you’ve accomplished! Click “Submit” when you are satisfied with the product – strive for purposefulness and perfection!
No one can tell your story quite like you can. Wherever you decide to apply and ultimately end up attending, remind yourself how far you’ve come and how hard you worked to get there. My last piece of advice for you is to be confident. Be confident in yourself, in your application, what you’ve done and what’s coming next in your life. We hope that these tips are valuable throughout the application process and remember, enjoy the experience! This is just the beginning!
Office of Admissions