3 answers

What's the most important part of a college application?

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I'm in high school hoping to go into either a health or law profession after college. I am currently undecided about which university I want to go to and what my major will be. #college #college-applications

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Cheryl’s Answer

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Hey Harry. I think the most important thing is to make sure your application provides a reflection of your true self. Your goal is to have the admissions reader rooting for you. Be honest and authentic. Here are some basic tips:

1.) Start filling out apps early, especially if you need scholarship money. The Common App opens August 1. Start then. Some universities and colleges require you turn the app in by November 1 for scholarship consideration. That gives you time to get it right.

2.) Work on your essay the summer before senior year. Make sure you write about something that is new to your reader. Don't write about things that are already in the rest of your app. Give them something new to get to know you. I know kids who got into college because their essay was "compelling". I like it when students write about things that differentiate them from other students.
Ex: You are one of nine kids in your family. What does that look like from your perspective? How does that impact your character and life? You could talk about advocating for yourself, working as a team, being responsible at an early age...Be specific.
Essay prompts are listed here:
https://appsupport.commonapp.org/applicantsupport/s/article/What-are-the-2020-2021-Common-Application-essay-prompts

3.) Have someone proofread your full app before you submit it. Check for spelling errors, incomplete data and again be specific. Don't just say you are in a club and your title. Tell your reader what you learned from it, why you like it.

Surprisingly, the college application process can be fun and rewarding if you stick with simply being you. Give yourself time, and stay organized. Also make sure you pick some safety and on-target colleges to keep yourself focused and encouraged. Simply google "average gpa and SAT (or ACT) for University of _____ or ______College. A bunch of sites will come up, including the college, as well as Prep Scholar, one of my favorites. Do not get discouraged from these sites; they are only intended to give you some idea where you stand. Ask your counselor if you need help identifying colleges that are a good match for you. You got this! :)
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Timothy’s Answer

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Hi Harry,

It really depends on the school.

Some schools take a holistic approach and others are more number focused (GPA/SAT/# of extracurriculars).

There are a number of schools that are making SAT/ACT scores optional, so check out this link: https://blog.prepscholar.com/the-complete-guide-to-sat-optional-colleges.

Another factor to focus on is your essay and supplementary essays. A lot of schools will ask creative questions for you to answer uniquely. Take advantage of these and write something that you yourself are proud of.

You can also express your uniqueness through your extracurricular activities, and DO NOT worry about having 15 activities and being the president of each one. Schools would rather you be a high contributor to something you care about than just spending 1 hour a month to have extra clubs in your name.

GPA and SAT/ACT scores are important, but the other things mentioned above will make the difference when all the numbers are the same.

P.S. If you can do a college interview, do one. It's a two-way conversation where you can also learn a lot about the school and what it's like to attend.
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Britni’s Answer

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Hi Harry! There are many parts that go into a college application but I would say your GPA and SAT/ACT scores would be most important. Those are usually the first things that colleges look at in a potential applicant before they narrow down their selection of incoming students. However, making yourself a competitive applicant is important after the GPA and SAT/ACT, and this is where extracurricular activities come in. Whether it be volunteering or playing a sport, schools like to see commitment and passion. Hope this helps!
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