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.



The Difference Between Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision Applications


College application season is coming up! This means you have to decide how and when to submit your application to your chosen colleges and universities. Each application plan is unique in its own way and a wrong decision could cause you to rethink or change which institution you want to enroll in.


Early Action


Early Action allows you to apply early for an institution without having to fully commit to that specific school. With this plan, you are allowed to apply for other institutions and are not forced to withdraw the applications to other schools if you get accepted through the Early Action plan.


  • No Commitment - You do not have to fully commit to a school, unlike the ED plan.
  • Early Response - You get an early notification from the school if you are accepted, denied, or deferred into the regular admission applicant pool.
  • Financial Aid - You are able to compare financial aid offers from different schools which could be beneficial financially.
  • Less Stress- You are less stressed about applications when January rolls around.


  • Less Polished Applications - Since these applications are due around November, this could affect the overall quality of your essay when it comes to essay questions or other written components of the application.
  • Single Choice Early Action - Some schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, have a policy of “Single Choice Early Action” in which you are only allowed to apply to that specific school and only that school for EA. You may not apply to any other school via the EA plan.
  • Senior Year Grades - Sometimes your first-semester senior year grades can help boost your application, so if you submit EA you risk the chance of missing out on the inclusion of these grades.


Early Decision


Early Decision allows you to apply to one school that you are going to be fully committed to and by fully committed, I mean you are practically “binding” yourself to that school if you get accepted. When applying with Early Decision, make sure you are confident with your choice school and have done a lot of research before deciding to take this application route.


  • “Slight” Edge - Since you are fully committing to that one school, if you are accepted, it shows the school that you have set your sights to that school and are 100% sure about your decision to attend.
  • Less Stress - Just like EA applications, ED applications are submitted around November which can save you some time later in the application process.


  • Full Commitment - With Early Decision, you can only apply to one school and if you are accepted to that school then you must attend unless there is a reason you cannot attend, such as your inability to physically pay or be on campus.
  • Withdrawal of Other Applications - If you are accepted to your ED school, you must “withdraw” all other submitted applications because of your commitment.
  • Changing Your Mind - You should be 100% confident about your chosen ED school if you choose this plan. Since this plan is a “binding” plan, you must fully look at your chosen school and make sure you are confident in your decision.
  • Chance of Less Financial Aid - Unlike Early Action, ED acceptances usually don’t come with financial aid offers because of your commitment to that school.
  • Less Polished Applications - Like EA applications, these applications are submitted early which may be inconvenient since the fall time can be very busy time for you. If you submit an unpolished application, it could hinder your chance at being admitted into the school.
  • Senior Year Grades - Just like Early Action, you risk the chance of missing out on the inclusion of these grades, but usually colleges will ask you to submit a Mid-Year report.


Regular Decision


When applying with Regular Decision, many colleges have their applications due around the beginning of January. This application path is generally the most used because of the non-commitment aspect of the application process.


  • Applying to all of Your Chosen Colleges - With the regular decision, you are allowed to apply to all of your desired colleges!
  • More Time and Polished Application - Since the deadline is later than both of the EA and ED paths, you have more time to polish up your application to make sure your application is the best as it can be.
  • Senior Grades - Like I mentioned earlier in both of the EA and ED sections, the inclusion of your senior year grades can help show that you are consistent with your grade marks.


  • Competition - Competition to get into any college is always a thing, but when applying with the thousands of other people, your application may not stand out when it comes to the admission process.
  • Later Admission Decision - Although the wait for the decision is longer, it is only a couple of months after EA and ED decisions.

Whichever path you choose when deciding when to submit your college application, make you choose the best path for your intentions and do a lot of research on your colleges!




The Advantages of Starting Your Common Application Early


It’s August, which means the return of two things: school, and the opening of the Common Application.

Many colleges across the country use the Common Application as a way to make the application process as smooth and concise as possible for students. While this is a big help, there is another thing that you can do in order to make the process even easier for yourself- starting your application early, and giving yourself the greatest amount of time to work on it.


The Race Against the Clock

It is no secret that it is time consuming to fill out college applications. The process can become even more stressful when paired with school work, and can put strains on your friendships and grades, in which the latter are extremely important during your senior year of high school.

The only way that you can combat the inevitable pressure during this time of year is to begin your application as soon as you possibly can before things start to get busy at school. The procrastination of this important process will only lead to unneeded anxiety, and you will miss out on opportunities that will help better your applications.

Here are a few advantages of starting your applications early and tips on how to make them the best that they can be.

Talking to Your Counselor

One of the best things about starting the application process is that you are never alone, even if you start ahead of everyone else. Your counselor will be there for you every step of the way, and can advise you and answer any questions you have.

If you aren’t in school yet, don’t be afraid to send your counselor an email, and if you have already started school, make it a point to set up an appointment with them in the near future. They will be happy to assist you in any way they can, whether it be for helping you choose your shortlist of colleges and universities, helping you send out the transcripts and test scores necessary for your applications, or assisting you in choosing which activities would best showcase your positive qualities on your Activities List. Being ahead of the game can only help you as counselors will not be completely swamped with appointments yet; due to this, they can give you the best possible advice about making decisions concerning your future.

Getting Teacher Recommendations

For some students, approaching teachers for recommendations is terrifying and anxiety-inducing, while others already know which teachers they want to write theirs and can easily inquire about them. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, you need to make sure that you ask your teachers to write your recommendations as soon as possible.

Deciding which teachers will write your recommendations can be difficult, so giving yourself a lot of time to figure out which ones would be the best for you is a huge plus. When you work the list out early, you can ask them before others start crowding them with requests. By doing this, you save both yourself and your teachers a lot of stress, and give them a lot of time to write the best recommendation they can without the strain of a deadline hovering above their heads.


Writing Your Essays

Writing the essays for your applications is possibly the most stressful part of the application process due to tricky, open-ended prompts and word counts that limit your creativity. This part only gets worse if you attempt to write these essays while you are in school, for homework and extra-curriculars can get in the way- you don’t want to have to focus on your college essay while writing a research paper for your English class at the same time.

If you are not in school, you are currently in the best-case scenario. Even though you are probably trying to embrace your last days of summer vacation, take out some time to at least look at all of the prompts for the colleges you are applying to and brainstorm what you will write; it would be even better if you write rough drafts for all of them. If you are already in school, then you will have to manage your time wisely. When you have breaks, take the time to jot down ideas for your essays and write blurbs that will fit into them. After school and on the weekends, put your mind to writing drafts based on your ideas, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by others so that you can write as best as you can.

A big advantage to starting your essays early is that you give people a lot of time to read and edit them. Not only can you ask friends and family to assist you in making sure your essays are absolutely perfect, but your teachers can also give you more in-depth advice so that you can express yourself clearly through your writing. Getting help editing is a valuable opportunity that you cannot pass up, so put a pencil to paper and start!

Hopefully, throughout this article, you have realized that starting your Common Application early can only be advantageous for you and the people who are willing to assist you in making sure you impress the colleges you are applying to. Avoid all possible stress and begin now—you’ll be thankful when application deadlines come rolling around!



Self-Advocacy: Be the Boss of Your Education



As for students with learning disabilities, self-advocacy is a crucial skill to have in the classroom, in order to obtain the best educational experience for yourself possible.  Although, everyone can benefit from self-advocacy in and outside of the classroom.  

The Issue

As elementary school students, we so often hear the term “stick up for yourself” without receiving a complete understanding of what it truly means to do so.  This results in naïve misinterpretations about self-advocacy; that it is an easily manageable task that accumulates with time and age.  Well, at least that was my belief.  I was met with the harsh realities of not “sticking up for yourself” as a high school freshman.  Because I did not have the confidence, courage, and acknowledgement, I found that my academic wants and needs weren’t being met to my full satisfaction.  Thankfully, because of the experience, I discovered the secret power that lies in self-advocacy and the impact it can have on one’s educational (and life) experience.  Start the school year off right and be assertive in your education.


Identify Your Voice

Our educational lives are constantly monitored by a small army of adults including our parents, teachers, guidance counselors, club advisers, etc.  In this triumphant sea of elders, it becomes very easy to lose your voice.  Especially if some of these adults feel automatically inclined to exercise their authority over those younger than them, rather than with them.  This lack of a platform can be discouraging to certain students, causing them to withdraw from the nucleus of their educational process rather than towards it.  One of the most significant ways to dispel this unequal share of powers in one’s personal education is to know yourself well enough to vocalize your presence.  By the simple act of acknowledging your academic wants, needs, strengths, weaknesses…etc. you lay the foundation for strong confidence and assurance that cannot go unheard by the adults in your educational journey.

Effective Communication

A large part of self-advocacy is communication.  And for my fellow introverts, allow me to rid of the ridiculous myth that extroverts are the only ones who can naturally speak for themselves.  It merely takes a thorough understanding of self in order to communicate fluently and effectively with those who can provide aid to you.  Taking initiative and being assertive means, in no way, to overrule the authority figures in your education.  Rather, it means to be proactive and engaged in the learning process alongside them.  The learning process is different for everyone.  As for myself, I struggle with severe-to-profound hearing loss, which puts me at a slight disadvantage in certain oral-orientated classes. (Yes, I am calling you out, Honors Spanish.)  Because of this, I had to commence personal conversations with my school advisers in order to address and accommodate these issues.


Self-advocacy does not come easily.  It stems from self-confidence which can, in most cases, take time to build.  With that being said, however, confidence is constantly evolving, so you should not decide to “wait” until you feel that you’ve reached the status quo of confidence that the media portrays.  In the end, you must find what is most important to you as a student and person and inform people of the internal and external barriers making it difficult to attain the educational experience that you deserve.

Leadership Opportunity for Teens

During the summer in which I was a rising sophomore in high school, I was invited to a leadership program for teenagers with hearing loss called LOFT.  It was here that I learned to be self-advocate.  If you are a high school student with any measure of hearing loss/deafness, click on the hyperlink for more information about the program.



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5 Effective Steps to Brainstorm the Perfect College Essay


Believe it or not, the time for submitting college essays is just around the corner. If you’re anything like me, summer break has given you major writer's block. I’ve compiled a list of ways top stay motivated and dig you out of that creative funk!


1. Ditch the Computer and Stop Erasing Your Ideas

Researchers, like Claire Bustarret, a specialist from ‘the Maurice Halbwachs research Centre’ in Paris, suggests that writing by hand allows the creator to visually see the creative process, thus allowing for growth and greater ideas to come up, as you’re writing.

Adding to that, when you’re writing on paper, don’t erase your ideas—allow your writing to grow from those ideas you didn’t like so much and let new, better ideas rise from them. I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment researching this because it’s happened often where I have an idea but I can’t word it right, so I scrap it. DO NOT do this. Get all of your first draft, non-sense, messy ideas out on paper, and then organize.

2. Talk to People and Get Their Opinions

Talk to your friends about your ideas and their ideas. Let them read your work and critique it. You never know, someone could say something that sparks a brilliant idea. Human interaction and feeding off of others opinions and thoughts help us grow as learners and writers.

3. Get Into Your Flow and Out of Your Head

This is the simplest tip. Just start writing. No matter how bad you think it is, just write. If I ever get into those awful writer’s blocks I just start writing—get out of the mindset that everything you write isn’t ‘perfect.’ Just be patient, and the ideas will come.

Get into your flow. I know that’s easier said than done, but getting into a good head space for writing isn’t all that difficult. The main aspect of this is to know what you’re writing about and what needs to get done. This can help focus your mind and get your ideas flowing. Make a list of the things you want to say, and do your research. Then take a break. I find that if I soak up all the information and ideas  and then let that settle, the inspiration and words flow out of me.


4. Drink More Tea and Take More Naps

This is my favorite tip, for obvious reasons, but it’s actually more helpful than it seems. Drinking warm green tea with lemon has helped me get an incredible amount of work done. It is an excellent source of caffeine and the lemon helps restore your mind—and all around the tea helps you relax.

Napping is going to let all those ideas settle—I’m not sure if there is some science to this or if it’s just me, but I write best when I first wake up or when I’m super tired.

5. Listen to Music

I’ve found that this actually doesn't help everyone, and some people prefer silence when they’re creating. But I get a lot of inspiration from listening to music—make a playlist of your favorite songs for writing time. If music is too distracting, put on a podcast; listening to people speak is very relaxing and gives me tons of inspiration.

Bonus: Get Rid of Self-Doubt

Whether you’re writing a college essay or making an application for a job/internship, the most important, and sort of clichéd tip, I can give is to not doubt yourself.  If I erased everything I didn’t like in a piece of work, I’d never finish anything. Colleges and potential employers are looking to see your personality and your best work—so if you do that, there’s a huge chance for success!

For more tips on staying creative check out this YouTube video: ‘40 Ways to Boost Your Creativity’