Advice About the College Application Process

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Lauren DiRienzo

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Google Common License:
Student stressed by college applications.

Google Common License: Student stressed by college applications.

  • Ask for recommendations early

For most colleges, you need two teacher recommendations. During your junior meeting with your guidance counselor, they will tell you about this and ask you to think about who you want to ask. Try and find two teachers that know you well and who will be able to write about how good of a student you are. When you find these two teachers, talk to them in person and ask them if they will do it for you. It’s important to do this early, mid-way through your junior year. This will give the teachers a lot of time to do it and it lets them get a head start before the rush of people asks them for recommendations at the end of junior year and the beginning of senior year.

  • Ask your guidance counselor for help

The college application process is stressful and it can get overwhelming. There are a lot of steps to complete. If you’re ever confused or if you need help doing something, make sure to go to your guidance counselor for help. Your guidance counselor should be very involved in your entire high school experience, especially the college application process.

  • Finish your essay during the summer between Junior Year and Senior Year

If you finish your essay during the summer, it will make the rest of the application process a lot easier at the beginning of senior year. The dreaded college essay has a maximum of 650 words and is what colleges use to get to know you more personally than just your standardized test scores and transcript. There are multiple prompts you can choose from. Brainstorm about your personality and your defining strengths. It’s important that your voice comes through. Be honest, don’t make up an interesting story. A college essay course or “boot-camp” can be very helpful when writing your essay.

  • Try to find the school for you

You should visit as many schools as you can. When visiting colleges, ask questions about the major that interests you. At each school, try and see if you can see yourself there. Once you have visited the colleges that interest you, now it’s the hard part: deciding which schools you want to apply to. Five to eight colleges are the recommended number of colleges to apply to. These should all be schools that you would be happy to go to. Some should be “reach” schools and some should be colleges you think will admit you.  

  • Decide how you want to apply
    • When you apply Regular Decision, the deadline is around January 1st. You get your decision back sometime in March or April. The pros of Regular Decision are that you can apply to as many schools as you want and decide which college you want to go to from the ones you get accepted by. The cons are that you get your decision late, so there isn’t much time to choose.
    • When you apply Early Action, the deadline is usually either November 1st or November 15th, earlier than Regular Decision. You get your decisions back in December. There are two sessions of Early Action. So, if you are deferred during Early Action 1, you can re-apply for the second session. Early Action is non-binding and you can apply to as many as you want. The pros of Early Action are that you can apply to as many schools as you want and you get your decision back early.
    • When you apply Early Decision, the deadline is usually either November 1st or November 15th, earlier than Regular Decision. You get your decisions back in December. There are two sessions of Early Decision. So, if you are deferred during Early Decision 1, you can re-apply for the second session. What makes Early Decision different from Early Action is that it’s a binding agreement, meaning that if you get accepted you must go to that college and withdraw all of your other applications. You can only apply Early Decision to one college. The pros of Early Decision are that you get your decision back early and most schools say that you have a better chance of getting accepted when you apply Early Decision. The cons are that you can only apply Early Decision to one school and if you get accepted you have to go to that school.

 

 

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