How to Prepare a Killer College Application
Here’s the thing: everybody freaks out when it comes to the college application and all the hassle that comes with it. There’s no way you can do this without tons of stress. After all, your entire professional life depends on this step.
But things aren’t that bad as they seem. In 2016, 74.7% of freshmen were accepted by their first choice college. Very few American colleges are highly selective, so you have real chances to join the school of your dreams.
You can’t avoid the application stress, but you can make things easier — by breaking the process into small steps and following a plan. This approach can help you to win more time for the complicated elements (like your essay), for proofreading and for getting recommendation letters.
Here’s a guide to preparing a killer college application in time, without adding more stress to your already crowded school year.
Find Out What You Need
The first thing on your list should be learning everything about how your application should look like. Each college has its own requirements. Some ask for admission test scores, while others are more interested in your high-school history and your interview.
Having a clear image of what is expected of you can guide you to improve your college application. You get to focus on the things that matter the most and dedicate less time to the parts that have little or no relevance for the admission officers.
Make a separate list for every college you’re planning to apply to so that you don’t get confused and forget about essential documents. Plus, having a college application checklist can help you stay updated about your progress and motivate you to move forward into the application process.
Organize Every Step Way Ahead
If you start early, you’re more likely to deal with college applications without panic and fear of missing deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill out forms and collect recommendation letters.
- Ask your teachers and counselors for the recommendation a few months before the deadline. This way, they’ll have plenty of time to write it down and submit it. Make sure you choose a teacher in the subject that is relevant for your future studies.
- Put together a list of all your extracurricular activities during high school, to make sure you don’t miss any important element that could differentiate you from competitors. Make sure to write down everything, including individual awards, jobs, summer or honors.
- Prioritize activities and choose which of them are going to make it into your application. Rank high those activities that are relevant to your future career and those in which you had more responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Contact your high-school and request all documentation you need to complete your application — high-school transcript, school profile, midyear grade report, or any other document.
- Register and take all admission tests and exams required by each of the colleges you’re going to apply for — AP Exams, SAT, IB Exams.
Be Clear When Filling Your Application
This is one of the most boring steps, as you have to fill a long document with many details regarding your background, education, skills, and plans. Many students tend to minimize this part, focusing more on preparing their resum猫 and essay.
However, your application is a crucial part of the process. So, you should pay attention to what you write and how you do it. Try to make no mistakes of any kind when putting in the information about you. Avoid grammar errors and misspelled words, as well as any unclear information.
Keep sentences short, but give as many details as possible. Every detail matters and can help you impress the admission officers. If you participated in summer programs for high school students, make sure you mention not only the dates and number of participants but also underline any event or project that you organized in the name of the group.
The College Application Essay Should Keep Your Voice
Many colleges ask for an application essay together with your grades, test results, and recommendations. This way, they go beyond your test scores and see who you are and what you expect to achieve after college.
Keeping an authentic voice in your essay is vital to get a positive reaction from the admission officers. They read thousands of admission essays each year and know how to recognize an honest candidate from one who writes things just to impress them.
Your voice makes you unique. Maybe you’re not top of the class or the captain of the football team, but you have skills and achievements that can bring you an admission. Choose the college that better fits your needs and show your admission officers what makes you a good candidate. In the long run, it’s what you’ll do after college that matters the most.
Ask for Help for Proofreading Your Documentation
Every piece of paper you send with your application should be proofread twice. Ask your parents, a teacher, or a school counselor to take a look at your application and essay before sending them.
Grammar errors, typos, omissions make a lousy first impression. On the other end, curated content tells a lot about your interest in being accepted and your attention to details.
Whether you apply online or through the post, keep a formal tone and respect all style guides. Remember, you’re not emailing your best friend, so choose well your words and make sure you spell them the right way.
Besides grammar and punctuation, ask your helpers to tell you if the application reflects who you are. It’s important to be yourself when filling all these documents. Your history, the activities you share, your honors and achievements; all these should help admission officers discover the real you, with your limits and potentials.
This way, you’ll be accepted by the college that better meets your expectations and can help you achieve your goals. Plus, an honest college application is easier to prepare and to sustain during the interview.