- Start early!
- Read books! This means outside of school too. It may not sound directly relevant to applications, but the more you read: the better your vocabulary, the more you learn about writing and writing styles, and the more knowledge you will have to draw from for your own writing. Additionally, many Colleges and scholarship committees may ask you directly about books you've recently read.
- Don't wait until your Senior year to take all of the tests you'll need (i.e. SAT/SAT IIs/ACT). It'll only add to your stress and you won't get an opportunity to retake the tests.
- Keep track of ALL the activities you participate in (from freshman year on!) as you will want to list them on all of your applications. Write them down as you do them! Keep all of the certificates, etc. that you have received for these things.
- If possible, it's good to immerse yourself in one or two volunteer/extracurricular activities over a significant period of time rather than participating in many one-day activities- quality over quantity. Colleges like to see your passion and commitment, and if you're stuck for an essay topic these experiences can be great material to work with.
- Don't put off your applications thinking you'll do them over winter or thanksgiving break, get started whenever you find time.
- You won't be able to finish them all in one sitting, so take a little time each day to do one or two things.
- Write drafts of your essays early so that you have time to get them reviewed by other people, and so that you yourself can review them with fresh eyes.
- When you think you've finished the application, look it over carefully from start to finish and make sure you are presenting yourself the way you want to. Have another person double-check it for you as well, it's very helpful. If you don't know who you can ask to read it, ask one of your teachers- any one of them would be happy to help you.
- One senior says "Trust the system." In other words, this whole process repeats itself year after year; admissions offices know what they need. If you are really unsure about anything, talk to a teacher or counselor about it.
- Take deadlines seriously.
Friday, June 5, 2009
After asking my classmates what they would suggest to college applicants from their own experiences, these same suggestions came up over and over: