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10 Hacks for Your College Applications

by Jocelyn Johnson, on Nov 18, 2014 10:30:00 AM

We're moving into the final leg of the 2014 admissions race. But, don’t short change yourself by cutting corners on your applications because you’re feeling burnt out or pressed for time. Here are 10 tips on how to navigate these final weeks and submit successful college applications.

1. Remember the purpose of the essay...

The main personal statement is your opportunity to let admissions committees know who you really are, beyond your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities. But 80% of essays are so general they do not help admissions committees decide whom to admit. Use Story2 to write essays in your own voice and stand out from the pile.

2. ... and the supplement essay(s)

Use the supplement essays to prove that you and the college are a good match. Whether the prompt is “Why this College?,” or a quirky question like “What’s so odd about odd numbers?",  prove that you and the college are a perfect fit by describing how your actions exemplify their important values.

3. Beware of over-editing

Many students lose their unique, authentic voice in their essays through over-editing and incorporating all of the different advice from parents. teachers, and school counselors. Read your essays out loud in front of a mirror to test if your essay still sounds like you.

4. Stay organized

Keep a detailed “To Do” list or checklist for each of your applications. Be sure to include what steps are needed to complete any open tasks.

5. Coordinate with your team

Make sure you let everyone involved in your college application process know their responsibilities and deadlines (in a polite and respectful way, of course). Verify that your letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores are submitted as far in advance of December 31st as possible. (And, be sure take into account when your school goes on winter break!)

6. Utilize your support system

Always ask for help when you need it. But, keep in mind, this is a stressful process for everyone involved. When you reach out to your teachers and college counselors, frame your questions so that they are specific, detailed, and time-sensitive.

7. Proofread your entire application

Save time to proofread your essays, short responses, and all of the forms for simple mistakes and grammatical errors. You may want a friend, parent, or teacher’s help -- but when you ask, make sure they know to only read for grammar and simple errors!

8. Have the payment info ready

At $50 - $100 per application, application costs can quickly add up. Make sure you have the credit card information, paypal account, fee waiver, etc. all ready to go for each application. Don’t let a declined payment slow you down in the final moments.

9. You’re ready -- Submit!!!

Remember-- you definitely won’t get in if you never apply. So, when the time comes and you’re ready, take a deep breath and click submit!

10. Say Thank You!

If you didn’t get here alone, make sure you thank everyone involved. Send a handwritten note to your counselor and to those who wrote letters of recommendation on your behalf.  

Topics:High School and College

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