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Ready for College? 6 Things They Don’t Ask You About in Applications

by Carol Barash, PhD, on Jun 2, 2021 2:25:34 PM

Now that COVID restrictions are easing up, I'm treating myself to one outside lunch a week with someone I haven't seen in person for over a year. In some cases ever! It's remarkable how some tiny NY bistros are now three times as big, with tables flowing out the door and onto the sidewalk. And nearly every place has replaced touchable menus with a QR code you snap and pull up on your phone. 

  • What do you notice that has changed over the past year? 
  • Who is someone or what is something you didn't know how much you loved or that you are seeing anew as COVID restrictions are being lifted (for those who are vaccinated, of course; otherwise, you're still very much at risk and should get vaccinated)?    

I invite you to use this moment of the world shifting to take the narrator's perspective and see the pandemic as a story, something with a beginning, middle, and end. Perhaps, looking this way, you will discover something new you want to share in your college application essays, or some new trait you bring with you to college.   

Here are 7 big life skills you can learn from the college admission process that will serve you well once you get there: 

  1. Scheduling: One big change from high school to college is organizing your own schedule! College applications are an opportunity to get in the rhythm of organizing a project that gets completed over time, and summer is a great time to get essays started -- maybe finished -- before school starts again. 
  2. Project management: Great college essays take time, especially the college-specific supplements. So plan time to brainstorm possible topics; try different approaches and questions; and make time to research each college on your list and how you are a good fit for their core programs. 
  3. Self-advocacy: The most important thing to learn from college admissions is how to make a case for who you'll be in the future based on what you've done in the past. In essays and interviews, replace generalizations with specific instances where your actions made a difference for others.
  4. Smart choices: Senior fall can be stressful. Make fall easier by getting started on your applications this summer. More smart choices: do a bit of work every day, eat healthy, spend time outside, get plenty of sleep, and schedule breaks to just recharge your physical and emotional batteries!   
  5. Budgeting: Avoid financial stress in college by having frank conversations with your parents and counselors about college costs. Apply to colleges where you're a strong candidate for both admission + financial aid. Set up your own checking and saving accounts and start saving money for college.
  6. Process: College essays are a chance to learn about yourself, try different topics and approaches, and reflect on key moments that have shaped you as who you are, This process does not end with college admissions! Research suggests that students who take this process approach, who prepare to succeed by practicing, do succeed more often than other students. Try, try, try...learn all you can from each trial...and then try again. The only time you fail is when you stop trying.

When you're ready to get started on your college applications, check out our essay writing packages and other free admissions resources.

Topics:college admission

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