Advice for Going into the College Application Process

April 3, 2017

Laura Henry says,

Credit: Sophia Bahr (used with permission)

Laura Henry says, “Just because you don’t get into your number one doesn’t mean you won’t find somewhere else that makes you just as happy.”

Towards the end of the year, second-semester juniors begin to think about the schools they want to apply to and the application process overall. While the paperwork itself will require careful management, the creative energy that must be given to developing key messages and application themes can be all-consuming. There are so many pieces that go into the college application process which can make it a little confusing at times. Here are pieces of advice going into the application process.

Early Action vs. Early Decision

Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.

Lisette Cruz says, “Know the difference between the two before submitting an application, if you accidentally mix up the two it ends up being a problem.”

Credit: Rachel McKenna (used with permission)
“It’s easiest to do college applications over the summer to get them over with,” says Audrey Dunn.

You’re most likely going to mess up on part of an application

Jenna Wiley says, “It  definitely won’t ruin your chances of getting in, I messed up so much on at least five applications and I got in everywhere I applied, so it will all work out.”

Lindsay Calka, “It definitely works out. I put the wrong social security number on my applications and it didn’t change my decisions.”

Get Ahead on Test Prep

Audrey Anello says, “Tutoring definitely helps for standardized tests. I would definitely recommend starting early that way you don’t have to do it during senior year or over the summer.

Apply to Where You Truly Want

Teresa Toranzo says, “Just because you didn’t take AP classes junior year does not mean that will be the deciding factor as to whether or not you get into a school, apply to where YOU want even if it’s “unreachable” because you never know what that school may see in you.”

Rachel McKenna says, “Don’t feel like you have to apply somewhere because all your friends are.”

Haley Schumann says, “While still applying to everywhere you see yourself, try and limit your school options down to ones you’re truly considering. That way you don’t waste money and time.”

Be Careful of Test Optional Schools

If your school is test optional and you are on the lower end of their act rage, don’t send your score because it could just end up hurting you if you want to apply for an Honors program.

Rachel McKenna says, “I think not submitting my ACT scores to my test optional school was the best decision I made. Not sending my score was the difference between getting into an Honors program and not.”

Don’t open letters on special occasions

Laura Henry says, “Opening letters on special days like prom or formal can be too stressful and I would definitely recommend opening them afterward.”

Get applications done early

Karianne Buser says, “Summer is definitely the best time to start applications. I was the first Floridian to submit an application to one school and they recognized it.”

Keep Your Options Open

Bella Guerra says, “Where you think you want to go junior year is probably going to change. Keep your mind open to all of your options. Just know if you weren’t accepted to your “top school” it wasn’t meant to be anyways.”

Rachel McKenna says, “When I went to visit what I thought was my “dream school” I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The school I was forced to tour ended up becoming my real “dream school.””

Meredith Butler says, “Don’t look at a school just because it’ll be good career-wise. You want a school that will push you academically and to be the best person you can be. Everyone has grown a lot at AHN, you want to continue that growth in college.”

Look at Private Options

Cristina Renner says, ”Don’t buy into the big name school hype and don’t focus on schools that will just look good on a resume. If a school is a good fit for you, you’ll get more out your education anyway.”

Credit: Sarah Ercia (used with permission)
Using the exact same name on all your forms makes things easier for admission officers. Decide if you want to use a shortened version of your legal name or your middle name, and then always use the same version.

Stay organized

Lizzie Dolan says, “Someone once told me to keep a journal of college reflections. On the good days, write about what you are unsure of about that school. On the bad days, write about what you love. That way, you see what really matters the most to you on both spectrums. Picking a college shouldn’t be based on the whim of the day, it should be a collective thought process over a period of time.”

Julia Prince says, “Keep a list on your phone right after you visit a school for the things you like, didn’t like, and want to follow up on. My mom made me do this for all my schools and it was so helpful to remember what I thought about them the day I toured.”

Ashley Lambert says, “Make a checklist for each application that has information like login and password, application due dates, if you sent your transcript, if you sent your test scores, linked your SSAR, need letters of rec, if you finished your essay, paid the fee, and if you sent and completed your application. I did this and it made it so easy to see what still had to be done for each college.”

Going forward will be much easier in the college admission process with the help of Seniors’ advice.

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