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A Free Application is a Good Application

By a Student, Julia Roop
As a senior finishing her scholastic year, I feel that it is my duty to impart the knowledge of the college application process I have gained in this past year to other collegiate hopefuls. I began my college process by selecting my top schools. It was easy for me to narrow down which schools I was interested in based upon my intended major, International Business. For other students like me, and even for those who are undecided, I highly suggest that students take full advantage of websites that narrow down collegiate options based upon major, region, price, size, diversity, etc. After narrowing down my college selections, I tried to aptly place these schools into three categories, 'Reach' 'Aim' 'Safety', and built from there. One of the biggest factors a student needs to consider is that these categories should be pretty even, i.e. as in my situation, three 'Reach' schools, three 'Aim' schools, and three 'Safety' schools. As the college process commenced and I began the arduous task of completing both the Common Application, individual applications for schools that are not connected with Common App such as Georgetown, about five supplements, and FAFSA. In doing so, I found that I eliminated some of my original choices; either because of lack of interest or because of the extensive supplements attached, and added others I had not previously considered. My main reasoning behind these additions to my list: free applications. The college application process is by no means cheap. Even if one is only applying to two or three schools after processing the application and sending subsequent score reports where needed, these schools can easily top $300, a pretty penny for any family in this economy. Times that by four and that was the figure I was looking at during as I applied to college, and by no means was I prepared to pay this gross figure. However, during September, October, and even November, the college fairy placed some free applications in my mailbox and the yellow brick road to college became ever clearer. Throughout these three months as I received many free applications, sometimes called VIP applications, from a variety of schools I was able to narrow down my list to no longer twelve schools to which I would apply, but only four that I would end up paying for and three that were free.

The first one I received was from the University of Vermont, a strong school known for excellent academics, skiing, and job placement, located in Burlington, Vermont. This application was designated a VIP application and not only was it free, but they also offered me a rolling admission decision, meaning as my friends were waiting until mid-December to hear from their Early Action or Early Decision schools, I knew the first week of November that I had been accepted. In addition, about two weeks after receiving my admissions decision, I was mailed a lovely UVM bumper sticker and a promissory letter of $40,000 over four years, not too shabby considering I had never even considered UVM before receiving their application.

After this initial offer, it seemed that more and more free applications came soaring into my inbox and I was hooked. Taking a total of ten minutes I quickly added Providence College to my Common App account, clicked 'other' for the fee waiver', and my application was on its way to a strong liberal arts school with a Roman Catholic affiliation. Weeks later, I received an admissions offer in a temptingly glossy folder that also included a scholarship award letter for $48,000 over four years! Though there was no free bumper sticker included with this offer, Providence was the second school I was notified of my acceptance too and I was happy to add another option to my future. I also received a free application from Fordham, a top tier school with a great reputation, for Early Action and not only was this application free, but I did not have to complete a supplement, and I heard two weeks ahead of the notification date due to my 'outstanding candidacy.' I was also offered a scholarship amounting to $60,000 over four years as well as my campus of choice, Rose Hill Campus, and a spot in the Gabelli School of Business! In total, I saved $180 on application fees, heard from these schools well before mid-December, relieving much of the 'I'm not going to get into any college' stress, and was awarded $148,000 in scholarship money.

Not everyone will receive free applications, but I strongly encourage, if a student does, to fill out as many of these offers that they can, given they are suited to one's desired major and are of interest. Not only do free applications save you the processing fee, but in my case and many of my peers, colleges that offered free applications also waived sending score reports, interviews, and essays. On top of this tempting offer, every school that offered me a free application I was accepted to, and was also offered a substantial scholarship. Colleges do not offer free applications to everyone, and for those who have been so lucky as to receive these fantastic offers, the college most likely sees you as a good fight academically for their school, and should you be accepted will try to make their offer as tempting as possible. Even if you do not have any intentions of going to schools from which you received free applications, having options in April when it is time to decide your future is always very reassuring and in the current economy scholarships are worth their weigh in gold. So, when your inbox fills with what seems to be useless clutter, consider spending the extra twenty minutes submitting an application, it just may change your future and you won't have to break your piggy bank.

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