The first semester of the school year is almost over, and high school seniors are looking forward to finishing out high school and moving on to bigger and better things, like college! Many seniors have already begun the college application process, but don’t stress if you haven’t! There may be a lot to do to get ready to submit applications, but with a little planning and preparation, you can meet those deadlines, submit those applications, and get into a great college to set yourself up for future success! Here are some of our best tips for applying to college.
Start early and make some trips to visit some of your top choice schools. Be sure to register for an official tour with the school so that they have it on record that you visited (this can only help you since they’ll know you’re interested enough in attending to visit). Tours will give you special insight into the school and help you learn about the school itself. You will get to see the library, on-campus housing, classrooms, and more. If you’re an athlete, a tour may give you a chance to see the gym and athletic facilities, meet with coaches, and get a leg up on other applicants. Plan these visits as early as you can since deadlines will soon be approaching.
Meet with Your High School’s Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors can give you great information about colleges, applications, and admissions. They may have some suggestions for you regarding scholarships or grants, and they can help you with any application questions you may encounter. Guidance counselors can also give you advice about what you can do to make your applications better and to increase your odds of getting accepted at your first-choice college. They can also help you with logistics of applying to college, like getting transcripts submitted, getting test scores sent to colleges you’re applying to, and staying on top of high school graduation requirements.
This one is a biggie. While it’s not vital for you to submit your application by the early acceptance deadline, it can be very helpful, especially if you’re applying to a very competitive school. Applying early shows the school that you really want to go there. Most colleges receive the majority of their applications right around the deadline, and those applications are less likely to stand out and more likely to get glanced at quickly. If you apply early, your application will be one of just a few, and the admissions committees will have more time to thoroughly look at what you’ve submitted to make the best decision.
Early preparation is important since so many colleges require more than just filling out a form. You may need to write an essay, you may need to submit a personal statement, or you may need to gather a number of forms and documents for the college. Planning ahead will not only give you more time to prepare everything that needs to be submitted, but it will also help you to gain a competitive advantage over other applicants because you will have everything in order and submitted early. Don’t spend just a day or two writing an admissions essay—write it a few months in advance, and then take a break from it before you come back to edit it. Share it with other people and have them read it and give you their comments, which will make it much better than if you just throw it together the night before you submit it.
Know All the Deadlines
This is another vital factor in applying to college. Not only should you know the early and regular application deadlines, but you should also know the other deadlines for the schools you are applying to. Things like the housing deadline, financial aid deadline, and more will help you stay on top of the admissions process and ensure you don’t face any surprises or missed deadlines.
Think Outside the Box
This tip is primarily in regards to writing a college admissions essay and completing your application. Colleges see countless essays about how parents are great, how education changes lives, and how losing the big game was a great life lesson. Think outside the box when you’re writing your essays and filling out your application. The point of your application is to show the admissions committee who you are as a person and what you will bring to their college and the student body. Present a complete picture of yourself through your application, and don’t just choose whatever is easiest and fastest in your preparation.
Be Aware of Your Social Media Profiles
College admissions processes have changed over the years, and one huge reason is because of social media. Especially for highly competitive colleges, the admissions committees have to take a lot into account when accepting students into their school. If your application states that you are an elite athlete and a passionate volunteer, some admissions committees will find you on social media to confirm that. If what you say on your application doesn’t align with your social media profiles, you may be out of luck. Additionally, certain types of comments, posts, or pictures on social media can dissuade colleges from admitting you. Before you apply to any schools, clean up your social media pages and don’t post, tag, or like anything that you wouldn’t want a college admissions committee to see.
Keep Your Grades High
Even after you’re admitted to a college, it’s important to keep your grades up. You also need to keep in mind that the classes you take have a bearing on your admissions decisions. If you’re taking several easy classes and getting straight A’s, colleges may see that as you are not willing to challenge yourself or work hard. At the same time, if you’re taking several advanced placement classes but getting C’s, they may have concern for your academic ability. Find the balance between taking challenging classes and getting good grades to boost your chances of getting into the college of your choice.
Double Check & Triple Check Everything
This should go without saying, but make sure you look over everything multiple times before you submit it. Not only should your personal information be correct (such as your birthday, social security number, and address), but your essay should be edited, proofread, and re-read a handful of times to make sure it’s perfect. Make sure your personal statement and any other written statements say exactly what you want them to and read how you want them to. Be thorough in everything you submit because you can’t take any of it back, and everything the admissions committee reads will impact their decision.