Getting to the Quad is an easy to read guide to getting into college.
The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book “Getting To The Quad,” an easy-to-read guide for students on their road to college and campus life.
“Applications.” That one word can cause many juniors and seniors in high school to wince at its mere mention. No longer will you, your friends, or anyone else applying to college fear those four syllables. Our trusty tips and suggestions will help you dominate those applications and make those admissions officers be the ones wincing… wincing at the sheer strength of your application.
Filling Out An Application
Typed v. Online v. Handwritten
College applications can be easily submitted online or on paper. While either method is fine, and it would never be a factor in an admission decision, colleges are well-equipped to receive online applications efficiently, and generally they prefer online versions. Many colleges now offer their application exclusively online. Some even waive the application fee when a student applies online. For those that require a fee, a credit card can readily be used to complete the online transaction.
The Common Application
Used by nearly 300 colleges and universities nationwide, this form is all- encompassing. Once you have completed it, you can send it to several colleges. Colleges have agreed to accept the Common Application with equal weight to their own application (colleges sign a legal document guaranteeing this). In fact, more and more colleges are using the Common Application exclusively; you’ll find the website to be user friendly, so check out www.commonapp.org. If you are applying to several schools that accept the Common Application, use it. It will save you time and effort, which is crucial to managing the application process.
• Supplements – When you use the Common Application, pay attention to supplements that each school may require. Some schools require no additional paperwork, while others require extra essays, recommendations, test scores, etc.
Stay Organized – There are tons of dates, deadlines, essays and recommendations, to keep track of. It is crucial to stay organized throughout this process. It’s a shame when students miss dates and deadlines, denying themselves scholarship money, a chance for admission, etc. Keep a calendar of dates and post it in a prominent location; allow Mom and Dad to nag you about getting those apps in on time, as they only want the best for you. The best way to make it through the application process is by staying organized.
Recommendations – If a teacher recommendation is required, be sure you know your high school’s policies and procedures about them. Some high schools ask teachers to send recommendations themselves; others prefer the counseling offices coordinate the sending of teacher recommendations. Make sure to give your teachers as much time as possible to complete your recommendations. It’s not a bad idea to ask them to start working on your recs the summer before your senior year. Remember, the more time they have to complete the recommendations, the nicer things they’ll be able to say about you!
Be Reasonable – No admission counselor is going to want to read a recommendation from every teacher you’ve ever had. Also, it’s not going to go over well if you send in a video begging to be admitted. Don’t grovel for admission — it’s unseemly.
Test Scores – Pay careful attention to test score requirements. Some schools require SAT Subject Tests, others don’t. Test scores should be requested with plenty of lead time. Sometimes it takes the College Board a long time to have official scores sent.
Plan Ahead – Don’t leave applications until the night before to complete. A good application will take time to finish. It’s obvious to admission counselors when applications are done at the last minute. Don’t try to complete the application in one sitting. Write it, then leave it for a while, check it over again later, then re-read everything one more time before you click “submit.”
Proofread – Your application should be free of careless errors. Take time to proofread before you submit your application. Let someone else read over it — they might catch something you missed.
Save Money – Most schools require an application fee to process your application, though, some schools waive the fee if the application is submitted electronically. Make sure to ask the admissions department if any fee waivers are offered.
Supplements – If you have visual art or performing art talents, it is not unreasonable to send a CD of your drawings or a DVD of a performance. Generally this information is sent to a member of the faculty in an appropriate area for review.
Don’t Be Modest – Tell the admission committee all of the awards, honors, relevant experiences, etc. that you’ve earned/had. Now is not a time to be modest…within reason, of course.
Transcripts – High School Counseling Offices may set their own deadlines for students to request that transcripts be sent. Counselors have to manage a large quantity of requests, and it is a wise student who takes notice of these local deadlines. Test scores are often accepted from the high school transcript, so check to see what your high school’s policy is.
Counselor’s Forms – Most colleges have a form that is to be signed and completed by your high school counselor. Print the form out and give it to your counselor. These are labeled by various names such as “School Report,” “High School Course Verification,” “Counselor Comments,” etc. This form often asks for the student’s signature and sometimes a list of senior year courses.
Save Time – Essays, short answers, and lists of activities can often be “cut and pasted” from a separate document, so take time to plan, write, edit, and rewrite these parts.
Keep Records – Print a copy of your finalized application for your files as a way to re-check what you’ve answered and to reuse the information for future applications.
Confirm Electronic Submission – If you submit your application electronically, expect a confirmation to be sent. This could be a follow-up email or an immediate electronic receipt. If you don’t get one, follow up to make sure it was received.
Waive Recs? – Some forms ask if students wish to “waive their rights to access the recommendations.” The law says you are able to view your recommendations after you enroll at the college. Why would you want to do that after you’ve enrolled? It’s okay to waive your rights to access them. It shows you trust your recommenders. Obviously, you may make your own decision about this.
Scholarship Apps – Learn if the college has a separate scholarship application. Often these college-sponsored scholarships have an early deadline, so make sure to stay on top of this.
Leave Blank? – Don’t leave any sections blank on your application. If there are facts you don’t know, make sure you get the information you need.
Helpful Parents – Students should complete the application themselves. Parents should NOT do this for students! If you want parents to help, ask them to help you keep track of deadlines.
Stay Focused – Be thorough, stay organized, be patient, and meet deadlines. Then you can sit back and enjoy the rewards of your efforts!
www.commonapp.org www.collegeview.com/articles/CV/application/understanding_application.html www.adventuresineducation.org/HighSchool/Applying/collegeapplications.cfm
Excerpted with permission from "Getting to the Quad," written by Michael Bergman.
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