What are some tips to prepare for college applications?
I'm a rising senior and a first generation student. The whole college application feels new to me and it looks like it's a lot. What are some tips that you have?
- try to look at your high school career so far and see if there are areas that might be seen as potential "weaknesses" by college adcoms so maybe fewer extracurriculars, etc. If there are any, maybe try to see if you can work on focusing in one or two areas of interests (re: extracurriculars for instance) and try to spend some of your free time doing that activity - it could be debate or MUN or environmental club or whatever is a passion or interest for you
- try to think about who your recommenders will be and work on really ramping up your relationships with them
- for writing really good essays, start now on brainstorming some core stories from your childhood, growing up, etc. and start jotting down bullets about them.
A little insider tip... if you don't know what you want to do right now that's okay, it's really rare someone knows exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I didn't find out what I wanted to do until I was finishing up my junior year of college. Looking back on my application process I wish I would have put some more effort into researching different majors and programs that the schools in my area offered. I still ended up with a great school and a great program, but I could have made my journey better in a few ways.
Here is my advice when applying for college:
1. Look into some different majors to explore what you can do with them and what career opportunities would that major offer. Even if you don't know what you want to do yet, research some things that spark an interest and jot them down.
2. Look into a variety of schools and compare them with the majors you picked out to see if they even offer them.
3. Now that you've picked a few majors and schools, see if they offer any programs for those specific majors.
4. Speak to your advisor and ask for help. Explain your situation to them, your fears, your interests, or anything that they could use to help you find a perfect match.
5. Create a very generic yet detailed application that could be used for multiple different colleges. Some schools require the same things while others require specific things. Having a premade generic application will save you time and energy, tweak it as needed for each school you apply to.
6. Look up when college week is, most applications are free during this time. It's a great time to apply to as many colleges are you want without breaking the bank.
7. Don't get upset if you didn't get the school you wanted or if you just feel lost in the process. Everyone's journey is different and the right school will accept you when it's time.
2. Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the schools you're interested in, and make a list of what you want (and don't want) in a college.
3. Start gathering your materials early on. This includes transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and test scores.
4. Ask for help when you need it! Your teachers, counselors, and parents are all great resources when it comes to college applications.
Make sure you complete all the required application requirements, such as SAT/ACT scores, high school transcripts, financial aid applications, Tax forms, and other requirements. Do not be afraid to ask question to any of the staff university
1. Look into waivers for applications. Applying to schools can be expensive and your high school or the schools you're applying to might be able to waive some of those fees. Same thing for SATs, ACTs, and AP tests
2. Start early and submit early. The UC (University of California) application page is known to break on the day/days leading up to when the application is due because everyone waits until its due to submit. Don't be one of them! Submit a few days early to be safe.
2. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get financial aid for the application fees. Never hurts to ask
3. Use your resources! If you have access to a college counselor, they can be very helpful.
4. Proofread your essays and try to be true to yourself
5. Keep in mind your deadlines and try to stay as organized as possible.
If I could go back in time and give myself advice in regard to college it would be to focus on the importance of education. Understand the importance of your academic journey and the various benefits in which it would offer you. Do research on the potential different salaries and job opportunities that a college degree could offer you. By doing so, you should find yourself with motivation and spirit to embark on your future educational journey.
Cristian recommends the following next steps:
2) Identify what you want out of college, or potential careers that seem interesting to you that a college degree would be mandatory or extremely helpful. Then identify colleges that have programs/courses/tracks that are well known, strong, and align with these interests.
3) I'd say limit your list to 10-15 schools you actually would be interested to going to, and that fit your financial means. Plenty of schools offer full scholarships just by checking a box or submitting a additional essay. I was able to get one to The Ohio State University just by submitting an additional essay. Look into these scholarships because you never know you may be able to receive one.
4) I'd say have 3 guarantee safety schools, schools you are positive you'll get into--compared to other students statistically. There are lots of websites to check this from. These should be schools you would love to go to regardless. The rest should be match schools and risks. Match meaning you are a good fit but there are many students who are similar stature. Risk implying you're below the threshold for requirements but would love to go there and at least try to get in.
5) I cannot stress this enough. Go somewhere that aligns with what you want out of location/school experience! If you like warm weather do not apply to the midwest schools. If you love nature don't run to the big city schools. If you like small classrooms sizes do not apply to large state schools. Consider what you want out of your school experience: big football games, being close to family, large campus, no campus, lots of student organizations, Greek life, diversity on campus, city/rural, traditional college experience or a liberal arts or a trade school, etc. All these factors are significant to you, and will play a direct role on your happiness, adjustment to a new life situation, and how much you get out of your experience. At the end of the day this is for you, so make sure these factors align with what you like/prefer.
With regards to the process, the Common App form is easier to fill out and since it will be going to every school, make sure to finish it up early so universities can utilize that information and you can ensure you have your quality work that you spent time developing there to put your best foot forward. In addition, with regards to financial aid, start early on the FAFSA - they require a lot of information so starting it early so you can get all the information and documents you need is a really important place to start as well.
When it comes to the applications themselves, it's important to be honest with yourself and really let your personality, experiences, and values reflect through your essays. After writing your drafts of your essays, have people you trust/who know you well read your essay and see if your personality/voice is coming out through your writing.
Finally, college apps are a very stressful time. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and compare yourselves and your stats to your peers. Limit that thinking. Everyone is on their own journey, as well as you. Your journey and your experiences are your own, and you will end up where you need to be. Maintain your individuality and don't get too caught up in the process. Use it as a time to reflect on yourself and your experiences so you can go to the school that is the best fit for you.
I think something that really helped me with my applications was being very organized. I kept a Google drive folder that had all of my college application stuff, including all my common app answers and every college's supplemental questions. That way I could easily refer back to other essays if schools have similar questions, and so I could make sure I wasn't repeating myself anywhere.
Another tip is just continually writing drafts of your common app essay. Your first idea is not necessarily your best one, so don't get too attached to a particular idea. Instead, keep writing half a page/an outline of each idea you come up with, and after you review what you've written and what you're most inspired to continue writing about, you have your college essay idea!