The college application process can seem daunting and overwhelming at times, but it certainly does not have to be! As a current junior in college who has certainly had her fair share of experience with the application process, I would love to share some tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. One of the most important aspects of this process is to start early. If possible, get your college essay done during the summer so that you can have time to edit it during the school year. For the essay itself, remember to always answer what the question is asking, this may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how many students don’t do it. Also, make sure that it is authentic and really speaks to who you are because this is one of the major ways in which the admissions board gets to know you. Finally, it is essential that the essay is free from grammatical errors because they will get noticed.
When choosing which schools to apply for, it is helpful to make a spreadsheet that includes what you are looking for in your future college. For example, you might include average class size, average financial aid awarded, whether or not a particular major is offered, distance from home, housing situation, etc. This can help greatly with organization, especially when it comes to writing secondary applications that are specific to each school.
As far as the timeline for application season goes, I would say that senior year is when everything starts to really come together. It is a good idea to visit colleges before school starts since you have more flexibility with dates during the summer. Early decision and early action applications are usually due in October or November, so it is wise to work on those applications first. Scholarship applications are due around this time as well, and these can take quite some time to complete. Regular decision applications are usually due mid-January or February, so having these applications finalized by the time you go back to school after winter break is a good idea. After applications are submitted, relax! Enjoy your senior year, prepare for and go to interviews if necessary and watch the big envelopes roll in!
Shilpa Kolli, Class of ’15, Environment Science Major, concentration in Chemistry, Pre-Med