4 months ago
Admissions Advice

College application process

I'm a rising senior. I want apply to college before the fall, so maybe get all my schools done by september. I've watched videos, read articles, done so much research on schools, essays, fafsa, etc. I don't know what to start on first. I saw a girl that said that she wrote an essay about her major and her passion( along with its origin) before she found out her colleges prompt. I; wondering if I should do that. For some reason I think my problem is that I've taken in so much information it didn't resonate with me yet and now I don't know where to start. I have everything at my fingertips, but I want everything to be perfect. And the college websites don't make it any easier. I don't know where to go or what do, so what can I do.


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
4 months ago[edited]

First of kudos to you for wanting to get a head start on things. Yes, I agree, the whole college admissions process can be daunting and overwhelming if you don't have a plan.

Some of the things that are checklist items are in your control and others are not. There is no possibility for getting your entire college applications done by September because there are things you have to do that don't even come out until October like the FAFSA or CSS profile from CollegeBoard which only come out 10/1/2021. These are lengthy financial aid applications that are for the most part required regardless of whether you are low income or a billionaire. And sometimes they take weeks because you have to get your parents (both mom and dad even if they are divorced or separated) to fill out their parts which include uploading taxes and financial statements and affidavits if necessary.

Things like recommendations are often things you can't accomplish over the summer and require you to ask a few teachers and your counselor once school starts. Again, everyone applying to colleges will be doing the same thing, so once school starts in September, you can reach out to those you want to advocate for you and give them 3 to 4 weeks minimum to turn their recommendations in. Since all recommenders have to upload their recommendations to either the Colleges website, Common App, or Coalition app, you really have to figure out what colleges you are going to be applying to first.

While you can get a head start on drafting your Common or Coalition app essay, you will have to wait until the supplemental essays come out for the individual schools you are applying to.

I think the most important thing you can do this summer is to fine-tune your list of colleges you want to apply to and if possible visit them in person (or at least the ones that you really want to go to). I can't stress this enough because 90% of the applicants in the last cycle applied to colleges they never visited and are heading to the ones they were accepted to for the very first time this fall. That's a huge shock to the system.

Since the college admissions process will be just as competitive if not more competitive this Fall, you really have to make sure that list will survive the scrutiny of the process which is unforgiving and brutal. One thing that is evident on youtube for example is that only super brainy geniuses seem to have fared well this past cycle. I'm talking about those who would still get into Ivy League schools if the admit rate was 1%. For the most part, there were lots of disappointments and miscalculations. Therefore make sure your list has a couple of safeties, targets, and hard targets you are absolutely happy to attend. You can apply to as many reaches and hard reaches as you can handle but if you treat them all as a lucky drawing if you get in, you will better off mentally because you've already talked yourself into going to any of the schools on your list.

Although 80% of your application will be the same whether you apply to an Elite college or a Liberal Arts College or a State School, the key thing is to make sure your Supplemental Essays are absolutely perfect. Spend plenty of time on those and have lots of people you trust to give you feedback on them and edit them grammatically and spelling-wise. These essays are sometimes what put you over the top. And it's clear that if you don't spend the necessary amount of time on them, they will be the death of your application.

Once you have your college list in place, then do yourself a favor and look up the Common Data Sets on each of them. That will give you an inside look at all the stats from previous years of admits. In those CDS files, you will be able to see what is important to the colleges and their admissions officers. Some schools really want you to express interest in their school and you are rewarded for them, others like Harvard could care less. Some schools really care about GPA or Stats so if you need to tweak something before fall now is the time to that and make adjustments to your Fall Schedule. Some schools give you the option of submitting a portfolio or a video explaining your spikes or passions so pay attention to all the other options you have that you can be working on.

I kept all the pertinent stats and requirements on a Spreadsheet. You can do that on Google Docs. Also you can keep all the important dates on Google Calendar.

Last but not least take full advantage of the College Vine Essay review service which is free and watch as many College Vine videos on writing specific essays for certain colleges and the great videos about how to get into a certain school like Dartmouth or U Chicago or Brown. Finally, if you are stuck, use this Q & A and someone will answer your question within a few hours.

Hope that is helpful.

4 months ago

My college counselor along with the College counseling office at my school suggested that we journal all sorts of things so when we sit down to write our essays we have a lot of ideas. I think its a good idea to read the essay prompts before you start writing your essay because you might write a really good essay and it might not fit in with any of the prompts. The CCO told us that powerful essays have the academic and personal intertwined.


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