Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Breeze Through the Application Process

Many questions swarm the mind during the college application process. Before you even begin to apply, I'm sure you're asking yourself: Is college even what I want to do after high school? How many schools should I apply to? Which schools should I apply to? What should I write my application essay on? When should I start?

Here we will address those questions and also take a look at The Common App: a generalized college application form that most schools use.

Is college even what I want to do after high school?

After high school, some people choose to go into the military, some may go straight into work, and others may choose to take a year off. However, even if college doesn't seem like the best bet for you, it would never hurt to apply to a few schools. It is always great to have a back up plan just in case your mind changes within the upcoming months.

How many schools should I apply to?

There is no golden number of schools that you should apply to; however, more is probably better than less. If you would like a lot of options, apply to as many schools as you see fitting. Also, don't be afraid to apply to your "dream" school, even if you feel that it is unlikely that you will be accepted or that you will attend. Don't be afraid to set the bar high; you never know what will happen!

Which schools should I apply to?

After you've figured out what type of school is best for you (like we discussed in this article), you can begin picking schools to apply to. Make a chart including the curriculum, location, size, cost, and culture of each school so that you can compare each of them when you begin picking which ones to apply to.

What should I write my college application essay on? 

Many schools will have essay prompts specific to their own application. No matter what topic you are writing about, it is important to be honest. Schools want to know the real you. There is no need to make up a bunch of extracurricular activities that you were never actually involved in. If an application gives you the opportunity to choose your own essay prompt, use this to your advantage! Write about something you're truly passionate about or something that has made you better prepared for college, like Upward Bound!\

When should I start?

Start early! And not only that, also stay on top of deadlines. You definitely don't want to be swamped with applications the week they are due and you also don't want your application to be lost in the crowd of applications that get sent in at the last minute. Do yourself a favor: start early, take your time, be precise, and feel free to work in increments.

Most colleges now use The Common App: take advantage of this!

The sections of The Common App include:

Profile - This is where you fill out various information about yourself; date of birth, social security number, citizenship, etc.

Family - In this section you fill out information on your parents and siblings, such as where they work, whether they went to college, where they went to college, etc.

Education - This section is where you include information regarding the high school you attended, your gpa, college credits, recognition of National Honors Society, transcripts, etc.

Testing - This is where you fill out all of your ACT/SAT scores and when those tests were taken.

Activities - In this section you will record all of your extra-curricular activities and anything you may be involved in outside of school. You will also record any awards or honors you have received.

Writing - This is the essay portion of the application.
The 2014-2015 essay prompts, according the The Common App website, are as follows:
  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.   
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Recommenders - Here you will have to get a letter of recommendation. Most schools also ask for teacher recommendations, but some ask for others which can include coaches, counselors, family members, or peers.

Lastly, you will be asked to submit a payment for the applications that you submit. These payments vary by school. Some are even free.

If you have any more questions about the application process, email or message us on Facebook!

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