Applying to colleges can be stressful, but the moment when a big, fat envelope lands on your doorstep, it is one of the best feelings ever. For me, applying to college went as smoothly as it can possibly go. Ultimately, I did get into my dream college! However, it did not happen in a snap of a finger. It takes a lot of planning and patience. If you want to know the secrets on how to kick a** on the college applications process, keep on reading!
1. Start EarlyTake your SAT/ACT during the spring semester of your junior year. During the summer, research colleges that catch your eye. Go through their websites to see if they offer the major that you are looking for. Do they have clubs and classes that you like or might be interested in taking? What about fun and unusual traditions that take place annually?
Here are some sites to get you started:
Or go on the college's official website.
2. Make Lists
Make a list of all of the colleges that you are considering in applying. Write down the pros and cons.
3. Go Through Some Essay Questions
Research essay prompts that were asked by colleges from the previous years. Some colleges repeat these essay questions, too. How would you have answered that question? Think of all of the things you have accomplished. What are your interests and hobbies? What have you done that made you stand out?
4. Be Strategic
Compare your statistics (SAT, SAT II, ACT, GPA) to the average scores for each school. Break it into three groups. Have your safety schools. These are the schools where you have a high chance of getting in. Usually, their average SAT/ACT scores are lower than yours. Then, you have your target schools. You might have a 50/50 chance of getting in. Your scores are around their average score. Finally, you have your reach schools. Your scores may be a bit lower than their average, but I still encourage you to apply because you may have a chance of getting in.
5. Show Your Interest
Take college tours with your family and friends. Colleges may be completely different on their websites than in real life. Meet their admissions team. This way, you can get to know the school and get a feel of their campus to see if that is what you are looking for. It is a great way to interact with current students and ask them questions that you may have. In addition, ask if they have any overnight programs and attend their school events. Sign up for an interview! Some colleges may even fly you out and/or reimburse you if you plan on visiting. Also, sign up for newsletters!
If you do attend overnight programs, events and interviews that are hosted by admissions, be sure to write a follow-up email. It is a good way to make you stand out because this way they can recognize your name when reading your application.
6. MEET DEADLINES
Self explanatory! This is VERY important!!! Gather all of your materials (transcript, SAT scores, recommendations, essays) and submit everything ON TIME!
7. Finish the Year Strong
After applying to colleges, it is time to focus on your last semester of high school. Be sure to continue to do well. Even after your acceptance, you are still on their radar and they like to see that you are still excelling in school.
8. Be Optimistic
You may or may not get into the college of your dreams, but at least you tried. You applied and showed your interest. My best advice is to not overthink it. Do not spend a large amount of time wondering if you got in or not. Live the moment. Have fun with your friends; it is your last year of high school. Know that if you do not end up going to your dream school, you will still be great and excel wherever you choose to go.
9. You Can Always Transfer
...just not to Hogwarts. That's not real.
10. You Are so Much More Than a Score
The MOST important advice: You are so much more than a score! Do not let your SAT, ACT or GPA define you. Do not beat yourself up because you did not get in. You are not any less of a person than to those who did get in. Make the most out of it. Be the best version of yourself. Do what you love. Take classes that are interesting to you. Meet new people and try new things. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.