Preparation for college begins the day you start freshman year. Your performance over your high school career plays the biggest role in your admissions potential, but the application itself also plays a role. Everyone wants their college application to stand out, so here are a few tips for college applications that can be tackled early on in your high school career, and some that will benefit you when it comes to senior year.
Don’t Over-Challenge Yourself
Most students think having a lot of AP classes on their resume is the best way to get into a great college, but the reality is you can over-challenge yourself. A C or any grade below will stand out to admission representatives; soif you’re worried about making a C in class, then it’s probably not a smart choice to take the class.
Be a Well Rounded Student
Involvement in academic programs like NSHSS show college admission representatives you are more than just studying and test taking. They prove that you are actively involved in making your school and community better. Colleges are looking for students who will have an impact on their campus and beyond which is why it’s important to get involved in extracurricular activities.
Focus on what interests you and really immerse yourself in the activities that you’re passionate about. It’s best to have been more engaged in a few groups around your school, than to be loosely involved with a ton of clubs or organizations. If there isn’t anything available that interests you, start your own club, organization, or non-profit.
Start Applications Early
Ever heard the quote from Mark Twain “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”?
This quote is encouragement to tackle tough tasks head on and avoid procrastination. College applications aren’t exactly how you want to spend your weekend, but it’s best to start early and get them done with. It’s also a good idea to tackle the toughest part of an application, essays, before doing anything else. Once you’ve done that, you can breeze through the rest of the application.
Applying early also separates you from the rest of applicants who apply closer to, and sometimes on, the deadline. An early application shows admission representatives you’re excited about the school and taking your application seriously. Many students apply on the day that admission representatives get overwhelmed with applications and it’s easier to get lost in the crowd.
Colleges want to offer admission to the students that are most likely to enroll because it looks bad for them when a high percentage of their admitted students don’t accept the offer. If it seems like you won’t enroll, it’s better for them to waitlist or deny you, so show interest. Visit the campus if you can because they keep track of who visits and who doesn’t. A student who visited the campus and is genuinely excited about the school is more likely to enroll than one who hasn’t.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Admission representatives have seen thousands of applications in their careers, so it’s easy for them to tell when someone exaggerates their accomplishments and when someone is being honest. Don’t waste your time trying to inflate things you have done or completely fabricate achievements; instead focus on achievements you do have. Your application should be cohesive and tell your true story, so have confidence it’s enough.
Write Multiple Drafts of Essays
All of the best writers will tell you rewrites are a key part of the writing process. Be willing to let go of your first draft of an essay and move on. Avoid putting off deadlines so you have time to take a step back from an essay and reevaluate when you have a clear head. This will give you time to proofread for errors and make adjustments where needed. Your second and third drafts are bound to be better pieces of writing than your first.