Applying for college should be an exciting time full of promise and anticipation. Yet before you can head off to school with an acceptance letter in hand, you must get through the application process. This can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here are some tips for applying to a college that can make it just a little easier to navigate.
When Should You Apply for College?
When it comes to applying for college, the sooner you can send in the application, the better. Once you choose your school, it’s time to gather your documents, write your essays, and send it in. Before you do, make sure it’s well prepared.
Tips for Applying to College
Applying to college takes time and concentration, but there are a few things you can do to make the process go more smoothly. These college application tips can help you send off an application that will grab attention and improve your chances of acceptance.
1. Be Organized
Your college application is going to require quite a few documents and other proofs. Transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and, of course, the actual application all need to be sent, and you must do so by the school’s deadline. Keep accurate files and records so you can have these items ready when you need them.
2. Start the Process Early
Near the application deadline, schools get swamped with potential applicants. If you can send your application in early, you have more of a chance of your application being looked at thoroughly. Also, preparing early ensures you have plenty of time to get records that may be missing, like transcripts or proof of community service.
3. Proofread for Spelling or Grammar Errors
You are applying to college. You need to ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors on your application. Use a tool like Grammarly or another grammar checker if you can, but don’t blindly rely upon them either – sometimes they get it wrong. Verify the suggested changes make sense and don’t change your meaning.
4. Provide All of the Requested Information
Check the application instructions carefully. Make sure all the requested information is included. Leaving out application information will lead to either a rejection of your application or a delay.
5. Be Aware of All Deadlines
Deadlines are important in college applications, so don’t ignore them. If you turn things in even a little bit late, you could have your application denied outright by the school. Therefore, early preparation is key. Remember, you also have to account for potential delays with the post office or email system, so don’t wait until the last minute.
Being aware of deadlines also applies to your financial aid. If you’re hoping to get a grant or scholarship, those deadlines also need to be met. Failing to file your FAFSA on time will eliminate your ability to get help.
6. Include Compelling Essays
One of the ways you can make your application stand out is to ensure that the application essay is compelling and attention-grabbing. This is your place to shine, so spend some time making sure you do. Make it personal and avoid topics others are likely to talk about, like the time a mission trip changed their life.
7. List Extracurriculars
Extracurricular activities show that you are a well-rounded individual, and this impresses many colleges. The more extracurricular activities you can list, the more impressive your application will be. Some things to include that you may not think of are:
- Club involvement
- Sports participation
- Charitable and volunteer work
- Jobs you’ve had
- Things you did with your church
8. Be Creative
Remember, one of your goals when applying to college is to make your application stand out from the bunch, guaranteeing the reviewer slows down to take a closer look. Being a little creative can help with this. While you don’t want to turn your application into a work of fiction, some creativity can help make for a unique voice. Use creativity by upgrading your paper to a professional cardstock instead of plain printer paper or adding some creativity to your application essay will make it more distinctive.
9. Ask for Help if Needed
If you find part of the application process doesn’t make sense to you, it’s time to ask for help. If you are still in high school, talk to your academic advisor to see what your options are. If you have contact information for the school, consider calling the admissions officers to ask for help with that part of the application. If you know someone who has successfully applied recently, ask them for help.
10. Understand Certain Schools Are More Competitive
Some schools have the freedom to take any and all applicants. Some do not. Determine whether you are applying to a highly competitive school, as this will help you know how much time and attention to spend on your application. While you want to have a high-quality application regardless, the more competitive the school, the harder you’ll have to work on it.
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