College Application Survival Guide: Tips to Preparedness

In lieu of the Common Application becoming available as of this week, here are some tips for those rising seniors applying to colleges.


If there is any one task that proves to be the most daunting in high school it is the one, the only, the infamous college application.

Almost every high school senior feels anxious because of these “unconquerable” applications. However, after surviving the SAT/ACT-era that is Junior Year, you can surely emerge victorious from any nail-biting responsibility.

Applications, along with pre-application research, can be straining but with a few tips and with a splash of self-motivation, you will be on your way down the breezy path of a stress-free college application.

1. Start early. Every former high school senior you know will stress to you that you need to START EARLY. Even if a certain college’s application is not available yet, there are several ways for you to get started the summer before senior year. The Common Application essay prompts are online now, and that is a good place to start.

2. Talk to your teachers. Choose the teachers/mentors that you would like to write your letters of recommendation. Remember they are going to be bombarded with several kids asking for their letters, so be proactive and ask them at the end of junior year. Provide them with your resume to help with the task. Also, throw in a thank you note — kindness goes a long way!

3. Be knowledgeable and use your resources. Even if you do not have one clear “dream school,” sketch out a list of ideal schools for you. Try to attend the school’s campus tours and information sessions. Searching out the university’s website to view majors, campus life and dorms can also spark interest and make you more decisive about your top schools.

4. Write your essay about YOU. As wonderful as your mother is, as passionate as your relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend may be, and as strong as your political/religious views are, avoid all of these topics in your college application essays. The truth is, these topics talk about people/things in your life. Admission officers want to read about you: your favorite dinner, your most monumental decisions. Be yourself and do not forcefully jam every SAT vocab word you have ever learned into a 250-650 word essay. Your essays give admissions officers a taste of your life and, more importantly, a full portrait of you.

5. Stay positive. Never apply to any school thinking that it is a long-shot and that you will never get in. This just adds to the stress of college apps. Stay optimistic and have a good outlook. Apply to every college with your best foot forward.


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