As winter approaches, seniors begin to receive the thrill of being accepted to their dream schools and the future of college seems as if it’s rushing towards them at full speed. When seniors look back at this time last year, the process of filling out applications and trying to figure out where they want to spend the next four years of their lives was very mind-boggling and stressful. This guide will help prospective applicants to take away some of the stress in taking the first step in college applications.
1. Do research to be able to find the college that is “perfect” for a student, names of colleges aren’t simply drawn out of a hat. That one school that has the exact specific program a student wants doesn’t get handed to them on a platter either. It takes time and research to really create a good list of potential places a student could actually see them at. If no names are coming to mind at all, places like Forbes Top College List or Princeton Review College Rankings are a good place to start.
2. Figure out the essentials and start to narrow down. Students should start to narrow down the list of colleges by really thinking about what they want to get out of their college life. Things like the surrounding environment, student body sizes, student life and extracurricular activities should be considered in this step. All these factors come into play while deciding what college is the absolute best fit.
3. Begin applying. Once a decent amount of colleges have been weeded out, students should begin the application process. By then, students should know what colleges are on the Common App and which ones have their individual applications. Keeping track of deadlines is very important to make sure the application process goes smoothly. A number one rule with applications is to balance it out. Writing all of the supplements at one time is definitely not a good idea. Fill out basic information day by day and gradually build on essays and ideas. To do this, it’s very important for students to not delay their applications till the last minute. Students should manage their time according to their own schedules to make sure each deadline is met. Doing these steps will ensure a stress free application process.
4. Rejoice! Once applications are finished and submitted, rejoice and celebrate that the easy part is over! Now comes the waiting.
Vocabulary Terms for Applying
Common App – A website which the majority of colleges across the U.S. use as an application submission program where general information can be filled out only once and be submitted to multiple schools.
Early Action – Schools that allow students to apply before a certain deadline to hear back earlier than other students. This is a non-binding application.
Early Decision – Schools that allow students to apply before a certain deadline and if they are accepted their decision is binding and they are only allowed to attend that perspective school.
Personal Statement – a 500-1,000 word essay through Common App that is submitted to every school on the Common App. These essay prompts can be selected from the options Common App provides or a topic of the student’s choice.
Rolling Admission – General admission that all schools have after deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision are finished. Applications can be submitted during anytime during the dates each college set and applications are evaluated at a rolling basis.
Supplement – A short prompt specific to each individual school. Some schools ask for multiple supplements, some ask for none. Supplements are required on top of the Common App Essay.