6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying to My First College

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying to My First College

Explore the 6 things I wish I knew before starting my college applications which could have helped me avoid stress. The process was a learning experience. This post will help others not make any of the mistakes I made when I began my college applications.

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Five Things to Check Before Submitting College Applications


With the first semester almost under the belts of seniors across the country, the college application process is coming to a close. Deadlines are quickly approaching and it is easy to become completely overwhelmed by last minute application tid-bits. Here are some important key points to keep in mind and double check before submitting your applications.

Did You Say Essays?

Probably the most difficult aspect of completing your college applications is getting your personal statements, insight questions, and any other essay material the best it could be. The more common essays applicants have seen are the UC personal insight questions, and the Common Application personal statements. Before submitting these writing materials, make sure that these essays have been revised and edited multiple times, showcasing the most positive aspects of yourself to the college admissions.

Keep in mind that different colleges require different writing supplements. The UC, or University of California, system requires applicants to submit four out of the eight writing prompts, and the Common Application requires just one personal statement essay. In some cases, colleges may request more than just the standard, required essays. For example, colleges on the Common App, (like Chapman University and New York University just to name a few) require a writing supplement that is uniquely tailored for their school. Research the colleges you are applying to, and make sure you do not miss any additional supplement essays or questions that are specific to that college.

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Reminding Recommenders

By now, if you are applying to private universities or other colleges that require letters of recommendations, then you should have already asked your teachers, adviser, and counselors for their time and help. The adults writing your letters of recommendations have their own lives happening too, and most likely have a list of several students who need letters also. During this process, it is crucial that you continuously check up on your recommenders and remind them of any deadlines coming up and other important factors of your application they may need to look at. I suggest that you set a designated time before the applications are due to sit down, and talk to your recommenders about not only their letters, but the application as a whole as well. Help them through the Common App site if they are having trouble, and seek their pair of eyes to look over your application one more time before submitting it. Your teachers and advisers understand that this is a stressful time, but if you work together you will get that application in hot and ready!

Of Test Scores and Transcripts

Next to essays and letters of recommendations, submitting your official test scores and school grades come in a hard third place. Although these may not be at the top of your list (especially with those daunting essays in your mind) these are nonetheless just as important. Official test scores, the SAT and ACT, are serious requirements for most, if not all, colleges around the nation and even the world. Look at the requirements at each of your schools, if they request a certain test or not, and make sure that the scores are submitted.

Your official high school transcripts should be taken care of by your school counselor, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them and make sure that they will submit that as well. On the other hand, applications require you to manually type in your transcript and the grades you have earned in the classes you have taken. Double check that section of your application and watch out for any grading mistakes or missing courses. Colleges will match your official transcript to what you typed in the application, and you do not want a little mistake to be mistaken as a lie.


Proofread Like a Boss!

When you think that you are ready to turn in your application, think again! Edit and proofread every section of your application, despite how little or insignificant you think it may be. Your computer is a robot and won’t catch the human mistakes you make, such as repeating a word or phrase and misspelling an acronym or abbreviation. The best way to get the greatest result is printing your application and reviewing it without that electronic screen. Your eyes will see more without the bright lights from your computer, and you won’t accidentally click “submit” instead of “back.”

The More the Merrier

Whether it is two o’clock in the morning or two o’clock in the afternoon, you never know what kind of evil games your mind or eyes are playing on you. Having another pair of eyes, or even a handful more, will catch more mistakes than you ever will on your application. Get your friends, family members, coaches, teachers, anyone to spare no more than maybe fifteen minutes reading over your application and checking for any errors you may have missed. In addition to that, have an English teacher review your essays to give meaningful insight and advice on how to improve it, and of course check for any misspelled words and awkward phrases in your writing.

There is only a few weeks (and less than two months for those Common App peeps) to submit your applications and hope for the best. The best applications are the ones that are completed fully, so don’t forget to have your apps and essays edited multiple times by different sets of eyes. I myself am in the midst of finishing up and submitting my first batch of applications. The most helpful key point I can factor out is to stay calm and organized until the very end of application season. Best of luck to all my seniors out there!



How to Sell Yourself to a College in Your Admissions Application


A big part of college application essays is selling yourself. You are your biggest promoter and supporter. For the basic college prompt of why do you want to attend *blank school*?, there lies the hidden blessing when it comes to showcasing yourself. Colleges want to see through your essay how you would contribute to their academic and campus life, and they want to see what personality or admirable qualities they could admit to their school by accepting you.

It is your job to convince and persuade them that you will be a valuable member of their student body.

Here are factors that you should definitely include in your essay to highlight your place in their school.


List Your Skills

Colleges want uniqueness and usefulness. Mention in your essay what skills you've collected inside and outside of the classroom that will be useful and unique to their institution. Include volunteer work and employment skills that you've learned and applied in real life.

Don't be shy to also include awards and memorable mentions that you've earned in your community or school, to display in your essay that you can actually utilize your skills to make a change in your school or community. Most importantly, integrate into your essay how you used those skills in your academic or work life and how you can use them to improve or contribute to the school you are applying to.

Example: As the student body President, I have obtained many leadership skills, and plan to continue my expansion with leadership positions beyond my high school education. I want to be involved in causes I find important, like for example the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that operates in the Medical School at your university.



Don't hide your admiration for the school you're applying to. Include the courses and programs you are excited about and explain how you would benefit from those classes. Also, write about the causes and organizations the school has, or is a part of, that you are very passionate about and admire.

Tell them why this is the place for you.

 Even look for nearby organizations by the school and talk about how you want to use the knowledge and skills you will surely gain from their education to make a change around the community. Show them that you will also be a good representation of their school by sharing, not only what you would like to do at the school, but what you would like to do beyond it.

Example: The agricultural program holds such rich opportunities to learn management skills that I would surely utilize in other areas, like my goal to intern for Disney Animal Science and Environment. I believe I can gain the skills and knowledge from the astounding teachings from the agriculture professors to manage my career goals.


In your essay, empathize about how you want to learn. Show how determined you are to learn new things and gain new skills.

Nobody is perfect, everyone can improve, and they want to see your thirst and hunger for new information and opportunities. Explain how you would like to go in-depth on a certain subject and how you would like to use that knowledge to help the school or community.

Colleges and universities are learning and teaching opportunities, so also mention any research the school has done and how you would like to be a part of contributing and creating research at their institution. Look up certain projects or programs you admire about the school and explain how you would like to be part of it and what you would like to gain from it and how you would use those new found skills.

Example: Through your amazing activities and outstanding organizations, I believe I can expand on my Violin musical talents with the remarkable and award-winning Music Society Club at your university. I aspire to win and participate in their events, and to represent the musical talent at your university.



Lastly, show them what you are capable of.

Paint them a mental picture of you attending the school. Show how you would mix into the student body with the clubs, activities, and academics.

Do research on their website and find specific points where you think you might fit in and write how you would like to learn and contribute to it. Definitely, include if a club or organization has inspired you in high school and how you would like to bring that sprit to the school and continue your contribution. In your essay, you also want to talk about your personality. Describe the qualities and recognition you would add to the school made if you were accepted.

Example: From my attendance at the Women of Tomorrow club at my high school, I would also like to bring my spirit and passion of empowering and motivating women in today's society to the campus. This college is so mature and modernize, and I would like to continue that by joining other clubs that empower women to strive for their place in the business world.

Those are some help tips and subjects to include in your college essay.

Recall that it is your responsibility to represent yourself. Be confident in your abilities and also include any hardships you have been through that you think has made you who you are. As a hard working student, you owe it to yourself to trust in your abilities and be confident in your skills.

Write in your essay how valuable you will be to the world and their school. As your number one supporter, give yourself a good spotlight in that essay.