Tips from this year’s seniors
I help run a community called ApplyingToCollege. My colleague Steve at College Admissions Toolbox and I are working towards creating a constructive space for students to discuss and share advice about this often stressful and frustrating process.A few weeks ago, I asked the seniors in our 5,000 strong community to share with our juniors and younger students what they know now that they wished they knew when they started the process.
A few weeks ago, I asked the seniors in our 5,000 strong community to share with our juniors and younger students what they know now that they wished they knew when they started the process.
Here is a collection of helpful and honest advice from students who have completed the admissions process and selected their desired school in the fall. I have provided a few direct quotations:
- Be sure to apply to safety schools. Many students get so caught up in getting into the most competitive universities that they fail to research schools where they are guaranteed admission and often scholarships. Applying to the ten most competitive programs and little else is a recipe for disaster.
- Start on your essays over the summer. You already have the topics! Why wait for when you are guaranteed to be busy with a full course load during the fall of your senior year?
- Sit for either the ACT or SAT at least once during your junior year. This way, you can see which test you prefer and maybe spend some time studying over the summer.
- “Do NOT, I repeat do NOT get fixated on a single school and call it your “dream school”, especially if it’s an ultra-selective school, like ivy-tier and top 10-20 schools. If you get rejected, it will hurt, and it might be hard to move on. I know it certainly was for me.”
- Be well-rounded. Numbers are important, but for the most selective programs, they won’t be sufficient to gaining admission. Having a compelling story or a deep interest in a particular activity can often outweigh high-scoring but less interesting applicants.
- “I wrote 13 separate apps 4 days before January 1st. lol don’t do that. Also, talk with your parents about how much they would be able to contribute to your college expenses. If it’s not enough, consider applying to more schools that are generous with merit aid.”
- “Don’t ever be afraid to apply to a school because it’s too selective. If you want to get into a school, the only way you are assuring you’re not getting in is if you don’t apply.”
- “I would’ve stopped doing everything I didn’t absolutely love and had a passion for. These were the activities on my resume that helped me get into the colleges I got into.”
- When it comes to grades, it gets much more difficult to bring up your GPA in your junior year. Take school seriously early on.