The CAT is out of the bag! Err..I meant the SAT is out of the bag. Now it is time for college applications. Unlike the SAT score, a common score that can be used across all colleges, the college applications themselves are pretty unique. There is really no way you can apply in one college with another college’s application!
Yes, the main elements of college application more or less remain the same.
No, the elements cannot be reused as-is across various colleges.
This means, you have a lot of work to do to complete applying to all the colleges on your list. Please bear in mind that all colleges do not have the same deadlines. You miss one, your application to that particular college is practically dead!
There is no need to panic or drive yourself up the wall with anxiety. For all the complexity that is involved in applying to various colleges, it is simply a set of tasks that need to be done.
Now that you are no longer biting your nails off, let’s look at some important (read cool) tips to make your college application process easy, effortless and probably fun! Before we delve into these tips, have a quick look at this handy checklist
from the College Board.
Let’s look at some awesome tips now. Shall we?!
Deadlines on the wall
The very first thing to do for your college applications is to put down deadlines for various colleges you are interested in on a piece of paper. Stick this paper where you see it the most. It could be the wall opposite your bed, your closet or even the toilet door! The point is simple, you seem these deadlines often, there are high chances that you will not miss any.
Common application versus custom application
There are close to 600 odd colleges that accept a common application. But there are a good many that don’t. Spend a little bit of time to understand which of the colleges on your list fall in each of these categories. You need to finish whatever else needs to be done beyond a common application for a custom application.
Lists, lists and more lists
Does your list of colleges include any of the Ivy League or top or selective colleges? If your answer is yes, then you have just earned additional set of things to do. A selective college has a different set of criteria to pick a student. Make a list of these requirements. The more the number of selective colleges in your list, the more are the lists of requirements. It is really important to have a separate list for each college. It might be a good idea to use a sticky note for each college. This way you can strike off tasks you are done with.
Ready to use high school transcripts
Keep your high school transcripts ready to be used well in advance. This sounds like a very simple point. But, you will be surprised or rather shocked to know that the most amount of running around happens to get the high school transcript ready. Many students tend to this that the transcripts will be ready by the time your college applications are ready. Remember no one has time for you if you don’t have time for yourself. Get in touch with the concerned person in your high school for the transcripts at the earliest.
Rank your recommending teachers
Recommendations or recos are an important part of the college application. A reco from a reputed teacher goes a long way. Sure, but a reco from a teacher who really knows you and understands your choice of college goes farthest. It is important to choose the teacher you want the recommendation from. Once you identify the teacher, it is important to be sensitive to their time to get your reco drafted. It will work in your favour if you can provide them with a list of your accomplishments. Once your reco is done, don’t forget to send a formal thank you note. Teachers cherish it for life.
Essay/personal statement – one text doesn’t fit all
Many colleges request for an essay. It is their way of assessing important aspects about you and your fitment in the college curriculum. Naturally one common essay is not good enough. You need to put together an essay or a personal statement that will echo with what the college is seeking in its students. This takes time, effort and reading up on the college. It might take a couple of drafts to get to the final one. Remember to get it read by three people (at minimum) before you send it across to your college.
Send SAT/ACT scores to the right colleges
You have the choice of sending SAT/ACT scores to a minimum of 4 colleges when you sit for the exam. This doesn’t mean an expense worth even a dollar for you. Plus, the College Board sends out these scores. Be sure you are choosing these 4 colleges wisely. Then be doubly sure that the scores are sent. Sending scores to more than 4 colleges via the College Board can be done too at a nominal fee.
Complete the loop
You made the list of colleges, got the dead lines in place, managed all that needs to be done to apply and now you are done with the applications. This is not the end of the story. You need to close the loop by ensuring you get an acknowledgement from the colleges you have applied. It could be a notification or a confirmation email that your application has been received. This is a super important step. Do not miss this.
Put these tips to test and let us know what you think about them. Leave your comments if you found these tips useful.