Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Application Tips from a Graduating Senior

My guest blogger, Kasey Wood, is a graduating senior who heads to Bates College in the fall. Kasey recently reflected upon her college admission process and offered to share some thoughtful advice from her own experience. I am posting her tips here in the hopes that rising juniors and seniors might benefit!

Kaseys Tips for Applying to College

1.      Finish the CommonApp before summer ends. It’s eighty degrees outside, the beaches are beautiful, and there’s a party every weekend. The last thing on your mind is writing an essay about a turning point in your life. At the same time, I cannot tell you how much stress I saved myself by finishing the CommonApp before the first day of school senior year. I witnessed my peers as they were on the edge of tears, feeling absolutely overwhelmed. Not to say I wasn’t busy myself, but when I was cramming for my AP Calculus quarterly test, I sure was glad that I didn’t have to worry about finishing the activities section of the CommonApp.

2.      Give the admissions staff plenty of material to work with! Even the strongest writer may have difficulty conveying his or her own uniqueness within the allotted word count of a college application essay. Be sure to ask if you can send in extra work; an art supplement, a short story, or even a home-made movie can really set you apart from everyone else in the crowd. Show admissions your true personality.

3.      Visit campus. This one is a biggie. Before I visited colleges, I thought I wanted a large state school. This made logical sense; I’m from a small, fish-bowl-y community and have lived in it since I was three-years-old. But as I visited different colleges and universities, I realized that smaller schools have offerings that are very important to me. So if it is a reasonable thing for you to do, take the time to experience a potential school firsthand. Watch the people who go there and hear what students and faculty have to say about the school’s personality.

4.      Take notes. Do this throughout the whole process. Whether you are on the computer perusing a school’s website or walking around a campus, write down your thoughts. What impresses you? Is there something that really bugs you about the school? Are you confused about something the school advertises or offers? You will always be able to refer back to these impressions which will help you when deciding which schools to apply to and will prove to be especially helpful when it comes time to write supplements.

5.      Don’t pull the early decision trigger unless you are absolutely certain. You may feel a little left out in December if you choose not to apply early decision anywhere, but do yourself a favor and don’t commit just for the sake of getting the application process out of the way. I’ve seen too many of my peers who were committed to a school by December start to feel anxious as they had time to reconsider whether or not they are actually going to the right place. And that’s most definitely not a good place to be in; you want to arrive on campus full of excitement, not regret.