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Five College Admissions Tips for High School Juniors

by Carol Barash, PhD, on May 1, 2014 12:39:00 PM

Today seniors choose which colleges they’ll attend this fall. We applaud your achievements, and look forward to hearing stories from your journeys! Juniors, start your engines: it’s your turn. Admissions season starts now!

Whether you’ve already made a list or are just starting the college application process, here are five tips that will help you navigate the college application process and land at a school where you will thrive and make a difference.

1. Colleges want to know you.

Admissions officers say again and again, “Use your application to help us get to know you.” (Watch one saying so here.) You are so much more than a list of your achievements. What did you learn about yourself in that Physics class you struggled to pass? When you talk to your friends about what really matters to you, what do you talk about? Stories about your passions, principles, and purpose—which take time and reflection to discover—are the heart of successful college applications.

2. Admission and scholarship essays make you stand out from the crowd.

How do you distinguish yourself from an application pool of students who have similar grades and test scores? You use your essays to reveal what makes you different and unique.

Maybe you don’t know what makes you different. Or maybe you think you’re not! Don’t worry. The best essays are often about simple, everyday actions, moments you may even take for granted, that have shaped you as who you are. Plan time to uncover those moments as you write your college admissions essays.

3. Focus on fit.

Research the colleges you are applying to. Get past the surface. Students are applying to more and more colleges, hoping they will get into at least one. In our experience, applying to dozens of schools doesn’t yield success for most students (although there are outliers).

Use the application process to explore what you are looking for in collegecurriculum, community, and cultureand apply to 8-10 colleges that have those attributes. Then you’ll be happy to attend any of them because they are all places where you will thrive!

4. Get organized.

College applications are a great chance to learn project management skills! Make a chart to organize the requirements for each college so you know, well in advance, what supplemental essays and materials each requires. Being specific enables you to figure out which colleges are really right for you, so when it comes time for your interviews you will be able to honestly answer that terrifying question: “Why do you want to attend our college?” Our College Application Organizer will get you started.

5. Make a payment plan.

College is expensive, and you really don’t want to graduate with mountains of debt. So talk to your parents about how much they can contribute to your college education. Then talk to your guidance counselor and financial aid officers so you understand your anticipated cost of attending each of the colleges you are applying to. Research scholarships, and add their dates to your calendar.

When you’re ready to write essays that reveal your unique character and connect authentically with colleges, Story2 is here to help. We do not ever write or edit students’ essays; we teach you how to write better. Guaranteed. 

Conquier the Common App! Find your free guide here.

Topics:college admission