Seth Daniel’s Answer
Congratulations on your decision to attend college! I really enjoyed deciding on colleges to apply to, and I also helped my daughter choose colleges. In addition, I'm currently doing college admissions interviews with students interested in attending my alma mater.
In order to successfully apply for college, a good first step is to apply to colleges that offer majors, courses and student life activities that align with your interests and potential careers. The logic is that you will be seen in the most favorable light by colleges that offer opportunities that align with your interests and your aspirations. If you have not already done so, a good place to start is with one of the many college guides available (googling "college guide books" will help you find a guide or two that appeal to you). Talking to family or others in your life who have attended certain colleges can also help you gain insights. Eventually, visiting colleges and if possible arranging campus tours through the Admissions department can help validate if your instincts are on target.
If you do what you reasonably can to apply to colleges that you believe are a good reflection of who you want to be as a college student (and eventually as a professional), it is very likely that your application will resonate with the people in the Admissions department who review your qualifications, especially if you take great care to be AUTHENTIC and TRUE TO YOURSELF when writing your essays or submitting other application materials. For example, when I applied to a very prestigious university that required an essay, I actually wrote two shorter essays and explained that each essay would give the Admissions person reviewing my application a unique perspective on who I was as a person. That university fostered independent thinking and creativity, so going outside the lines as far as my essay submission made sense. I attended that university and greatly enjoyed my time there.
Of course, writing two essays if only one is required is unusual, and I'm not recommending you do that. The point I'm making is that you want to demonstrate that you've done all you can to help the Admissions people know all they need to know to determine if you're a good fit for their school. And the great thing is that if you are applying to schools whose size, specialties and student life reflect your own wishes for college, the more authentic you can be on your application. And the if your authentic self (as well as your grades, test scores, etc) are what the college is looking for, you have greatly improved your chances of getting noticed.
So if you apply to schools based on a realistic and authentic assessment of who you are as an individual and what you want from your college education, your application has the best chance of resonating. You will have succeeded in putting your true self in the spotlight during the admissions process.
Seth Daniel recommends the following next steps:
- Research colleges using college guide books, friends and family.
- Decide which colleges are the best fit for you, and determine if you meet their most basic admissions requirements. Allow yourself to dream a bit, but also be realistic about your college choices.
- When you complete applications, follow instructions to the letter. If you have questions, it's ok to call or email the Admissions department to get clarity. Most importantly, when writing essays and answering questions on the application, be honest and true to yourself.
- Try not to stress about admissions decisions after you've submitted your applications. The ultimate decisions are out of your control, and if you've done your best to showcase your qualifications you will likely be admitted to a college you will truly love.