Applying to College 101
The entire process of applying to college is extremely daunting. From figuring out which schools you want to apply to, to filling out the applications, it takes a lot of time and effort. It should be that way though, because that helps you realize how much you want it.
You’ll spend hours searching for schools, and reading up on the ones you dream about. After you’ve found the schools you think you might want to go to, you spend even more hours and most likely a few late nights filling out applications and writing the essays.
Overall, the whole process of applying to college can feel a bit overwhelming at times, so here are a few tips to help you through the process.
- Don’t procrastinate. High school students are inclined to procrastinate on pretty much everything. If there was one thing you shouldn’t push off until the last minute, it’s college applications. Yes, they’re daunting, and yes, they’re time consuming, but waiting until the last minute only makes matters worse.
- Find at least one school you genuinely like and where you meet the application criteria. Ideally, you should like all of the schools you apply to as you’re going to be there for (most likely) four years, so you may as well enjoy it.
- Talk to different people, admission staff, and experienced counselors. It’s always good to talk to others and get their input on something as big as college. Talk to teachers, family members, counselors, and if the mood strikes you, talk to your dog!
- Take advice, but ultimately make your own choice. Listen, your friends, parents, siblings, teachers, sibling’s friends, they’re all going to give you advice and in all honesty, it’s probably all going to contradict each other. Ultimately, you are the one who is going to be attending the school, so make sure you are comfortable with whatever decision is made.
- Apply to anywhere from eight to twelve schools. This is helpful because then you can have a few that are realistic, a few that are a stretch, and some backup (safety) schools. Also, consider whether you may want to choose the early action or early decision option as it can increase your chances for acceptance at certain schools and shorten the application process.
- Have an experienced professional proofread your essays. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are, anyone can make mistakes, especially when it’s two in the morning and you’ve consumed more caffeine than is probably healthy. Have at least one person whom you trust as a proofreader so they can look them over and make any necessary edits.
- Apply for scholarships and research merit based aid. This one is kind of a given, because hopefully it was in your plans beforehand. College is super costly so no matter the amount, each one helps. Your parents will appreciate your efforts!
- Don’t take rejections too personally. You may not be accepted to some colleges, and that’s okay. That’s why you applied to more than one school. Here’s a little secret: you’re going to be fine if you don’t get accepted to a school, because there are so many schools out there and one that is right for you!
- Don’t despair. Applying to college is stressful, and it will pretty much become your life for a little bit. It’s important though—even a few minutes each day—to make time for yourself to do something you love. Whether you color, go for a walk, watch a show, anything, just remember all the extra time and work will be worth it when you get that awaited acceptance letter!
About the Author: Faith is a writer, director, photographer, and lover of dogs. If you’d like to read more of Faith’s writing, check out her work in the Bucks County Courier Times Reality section.