Hello seniors, and welcome to the winter of your final year in high school. This year is exciting and fun for so many reasons and one of those reasons is because it is the time to fill out your college applications! Yes, you’ll be checking boxes, writing essays and answering yes or no questions, but applying to college should be fun! Although our Early Action deadline has passed, our Regular Decision deadline is on February 1 so here are some tips and tricks on how to be your best self on your application and stay on top of the process.
Look, we know that teachers, guidance and college counselors are superheroes (we’re their counterparts, after all!), but they are not mind readers. Get in touch with your guidance office as soon as possible to ensure timely delivery of transcripts and letters of recommendation. Any teacher who is writing you a letter of recommendation may be writing for 12 of your classmates, and they deserve the time to write a thoughtful letter about you. Choose your recommenders with care and treat their time with respect – a thank-you doesn’t hurt either!
Tweets, Emails, Voicemails and… Missed Opportunities?
You’re going to feel very popular because you’ll be receiving plenty of information from colleges and universities via emails and phone calls. Before you hit delete – READ IT. Many schools invite you to apply for scholarships, communicate deadlines and policies, and send financial assistance information via email only, so it’s extremely important not to miss an opportunity or announcement because you were quick to delete. In addition, it does not hurt to create a neutral email account for the purpose of college – not that firstname.lastname@example.org or @Tigergrl isn’t great for your personal messages, but representing yourself on an application or online should be done with a degree of professionalism in this process. Same thing with voicemail greetings: if it’s a message of you shouting your favorite song into the receiver before the “beep,” you’d do better to change your voicemail greeting to something more neutral.
“Let’s talk about me!”
In both the Common Application and the SJU application, you are given the opportunity to list your activities or submit an optional resume. Well, from the perspective of an admissions professional, this is our opportunity to get to know you better. What have you been doing for four years? Playing sports? Planning activities? Doing community service? Did you have a part time job? The one reading the application is never going to know unless you tell them, so don’t leave this information out. Be descriptive and honest!
Schools Read Your Essay… really.
Every year admissions professionals at every college/university will see the same mistakes that applicants commonly make in essays – some of which are common grammar issues, but some are more involved and leave the reader with a good idea of the time an applicant put in to writing. For example, if you’re going to include the name of the school in the essay, make sure you send it to the correct school – this will happen every year and you don’t want it to be your mistake. Be respectful to any persons you mention, avoid common grammar mistakes, and write about what interests you. The best way to avoid leaving the admissions counselor saying “What?!?” is to have someone proofread your essay, preferably a teacher or a guidance counselor. We know you are not a novelist, but you can and should write like you have successfully completed high school English classes, and having a proofreader can do wonders! If you are left feeling stuck about your essay topic, think about why you want to attend that school, what you are passionate about, or what makes you feel motivated about the future. Admissions professionals want to hear from YOU, so use your grammatically correct voice to tell us why we should remember you!
This is YOUR process.
While we understand that you will rely on parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, counselors, and friends as you choose the place to make your home for the next four years, please know we want to hear from you. Craft your own emails, make your own phone calls, and ask your own questions. If you want to know something, call and ask, come for a tour, or reach out! This is the beginning of YOUR future and YOU should be in charge of it.