Tackling Applications: Getting the Most out of your College Applications

Applying for college is an extremely stressful time for all high school students. Pressure builds as parents and friends weigh in on where they think you should go and the applications begin piling up—the essay, any supplemental essays, filling out all of the information. Getting everything done in addition to staying on top of your schoolwork can be difficult for many.

A few easy tips can go a long way in help you reduce stress and stay on top of everything while still meeting deadlines and getting everything done in time.

Make sure you have safety, target and reach schools in your list. Safety schools are those schools that accept students with credentials that are not as good as your own (gpa, SAT/ACT, extracurricular, etc.) are, for the most part, superior to the “average” accepted student and you can be almost positive you can get in. Your accomplishments should match the expectations of your target schools (ex.—if they expect students to have a 3.5gpa, the school is a target for you if you have maintained a 3.4-3.6), and reach schools are those whose expectations may be higher than what you’ve accomplished—but you still have a chance and there is no good reason not to take it. You need this variety so that you can shoot for schools that might be a little better than what you can expect to get into; if you get in, great , if not, no harm, no foul. Target schools should leave you feeling comfortable about your chances of getting in and are great schools for you, and you need safeties in the off chance that if all else fails, you’ll have somewhere to go in the fall at the very least.

In addition to having a wide array of colleges that you are applyinh to, you should be sure to narrow the list down to a select few that you really like. A good number may be two reach schools, three target schools and two safety schools. Any more applications than this may become overwhelming to get out in time, and any less and you are only hurting your own chances of going to a school you enjoy. You should also be sure to go to commonapp.org and see if any of your schools allow it. I was able to use the common application for seven of the eight schools I applied to, saving me a lot of time by requiring me only to have to fill out two applications instead of eight.

Start writing your essay early to allow ample time for revisions, re-writes and corrections. You can’t send in a first draft, it needs to be your best work. As such, you must provide yourself a lot of time to work on it. Remember, every college will require at least one essay, and you can usually use the same essay for each. However, some colleges require additional essays and you should be sure to make sure which schools of yours, if any, require this early so you don’t find yourself scrambling to put an essay together at the last minute—or not applying at all.

Good luck applying to schools, it is a stressful yet exciting process that you should put your best effort into.

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