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Nailing the College Application Process
by Anastasia Kolovani (Student)

College applications seem to always be put on top of students procrastination list.  Before you begin, look if the colleges you are applying accept the Common Application.  Yes the Common Application has a ton of essays, but it's only one application you have to do and send it to all the colleges on your list that accept it.  If you're applying to twelve colleges and all twelve accept the Common Application, then you're all done once you finish that one.  So it's all over right?  Well, you have to prepare for it, especially for those essays that you have to write which requires you to write about yourself and what you want to do when you graduate.  It sounds like a pretty easy topic, but when you sit down to write it, it suddenly becomes hard.  Who am I and what do I actually want to do?

If you don't know what major you're going for, it's okay.  Talk about how you want to explore the many fields that the college offers until one sparks your interest.  Many students entering college don't know what they're going to major in and might have a small clue or even change their minds when they're in college.  Be true to who you are and talk about your interests.  Once you're done with the essay or essays, be sure to give it to your English teacher to look over it.  When I was a senior in high school, I know my English teacher helped me a lot in getting me started on what to right about and checked all of my mistakes and made sure my essay was as good as it could be.  Another important part of your application is the letters of recommendation.  Choose two teachers that you've known for a few years or have taken many of their classes and you've done well in their classes and ask them if they wouldn't mind writing one.  This is an important part of your application because the admissions officer will see how other people see you.  Keep in mind that the admissions officer has never met you, unless you've had to do an interview, so these two letters can give you an extra boost if you need it.  Make sure to get these two letters towards the end of your junior year so your teacher has time to write them over the summer.  Remember to never have your teachers write you a recommendation letter a week before the deadline and also remember to send your application in before the deadline as well. 

Another thing you're probably going to need is a guidance counselor recommendation letter.  It's the same as a teacher recommendation, except your guidance counselor will write about who you were from the beginning of freshman year until now and all your changes as a person and how you've grown.  But don't worry, your guidance counselor won't write anything about the many times you came into her office crying about how your boyfriend dumped you.  Towards the end of your junior year, you're probably going to have a meeting with your guidance counselor, and if you don't just request one, and there you and your guidance counselor will make a list of 'target schools', 'reach schools' and 'safety schools'.  When I had my meeting with my guidance counselor junior year, not only did she talk about these college lists, she also talked about possible career pursuits and what to major in for those careers.  Also, it's during that meeting that you will let your guidance counselor know about everything you've accomplished whether it be in the academics or in a sport.  But remember to ask in advance and politely. 

But the most important thing for college applications is to start it early.  Yes your guidance counselors will tell you that every day, but it's the truth.  The earlier you start it, the earlier you send it to colleges and the earlier you find out if you're accepted or not.  So why would you stay during December biting off your nails worrying that you're not going to get in when you can do it once school begins and send it off.  Plus, college admissions officers might think you're always on top of your game by sending it early.  So when your classmates are having nervous breakdowns in the winter until they receive their letter, you will be stress free and having fun your senior year of high school. 

Last, but not least, always go on the colleges you're applying to websites and check their checklists and deadlines.  The last thing you want to do now is send off you application without all the proper materials inside it or you send if after the deadline.  If you do send you're application after the deadline, your application will be used on a space available basis, meaning if the college still has room after they finish the admission process with all the applications that came in before the deadline, they will then look at your application.  Also, colleges have a checklist of their own on what they want specifically for themselves, so make sure to go on their website and check off everything.  Also see if the college you really want to go to is SAT optional.  If it is and you think you get better grades on your essays than on your SAT, then send in a graded paper, as they would want.  Again, look on the college's website to see what type of graded paper they want or what length.  You wouldn't want to send them something they don't want.

The college application process doesn't have to be dreading.  If you make a list and write down everything that needs to get done, you will be finished and all that will be left to do is wait to hear from the college, which is the hardest part of the entire process. 

Author:
Anastasia Kolovani (Student)

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