Take the required admissions tests well in advance in case you don’t earn a qualifying score the first time you take them.
Applying to college is an involved process and with the right direction you can get into the colleges of your dreams. Prepare for applications by exploring our top 10 tips for college application success!
1. Meet College Application Deadlines, Apply Early
If you want to apply to several colleges, be aware of every deadline. Keep in mind that admissions panels across the board receive thousands of applications at once so beat the rush by submitting yours early!
2. Complete the Entire Application
Take your time with each college application; fill it out carefully and double-check each section. If you submit an incomplete application, the panel may believe you are not a serious or qualified candidate.
3. Include Your Extracurricular Activities
Admissions officers look for students who have maintained a strong academic standing and a proven track record of extracurricular activities. Admissions panels usually give priority and scholarships to well-rounded students who lead a balanced, driven and active life.
4. Be Neat and Organized
College admissions review panels do not appreciate misspellings, grammatical and syntactical errors. Technical issues discredit you as a serious applicant and if you turn in a hard copy application, be sure to write as neatly as possible. Also, it helps to have a friend, teacher, or family member look over your college application before submission to assure that it is neat and complete.
5. Write a Stellar Essay: Avoid the Fluffy Stuff
When you answer application questions and essay prompts, steer clear of “the fluff”. The redundant filler words and phrases can bore the reader and will not help your college admissions essay stand out from the rest. Write clear and concise sentences that directly answer the prompt, conveying exactly who you are and why you want to go to that school. Admissions officers are more impressed by simple and articulate essays than wordy, unintelligible language that “sounds smart” or is "trying too hard."
6. Be Creative
There is a distinct line between creative writing and fluff, so if you feel confident enough in your writing, take a chance and have fun with your essay. This is your opportunity to “wow” the panel and show off your skills. Applications officers review hundreds and thousands of applications in a very short period, so make yours shine. However, make sure to use tact and keep it appropriate. If your essay is in any way offensive, you may not be considered.
7. Don’t be Cliché
Stay true to yourself. Depending on the essay prompt, reflect on your experiences or express your opinions with sincerity and originality. This is your chance to demonstrate your individuality so avoid regurgitating the stale “shoot for the stars” speech.
8. Honesty is the Best Policy
Don’t lie on your college applications. Embellishing the truth will only hurt you in the long run and admissions officers are authorized to check your claims and references. Allowing your parents to complete your application is also dishonest. You are the person who is applying to college, not your parents. It's fine to ask their opinions about it, but it's cheating to have someone else write your essay or fill out your application.
9. Don't Forget Essential Documents
Don’t forget to provide your high school transcript, SAT/SAT II/ACT test scores, and letters of recommendation as needed. Take the required admissions tests well in advance in case you don’t earn a qualifying score the first time you take them. One tip: DO NOT send the admissions panel flowers, chocolates, balloons or muffins.
10. Get Awesome Letters of Recommendation
Many colleges require one or more letters of recommendation from a teacher, coach, administrator or other adult who knows you well. Ask for a recommendation well in advance to ensure that you meet your deadline.