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Making The Best of Your College Application

by Steven Vukaj, Content Manager

It’s senior year of high school, and you need to put together your applications and send them off to your favorite colleges. There’s a lot that goes into crafting your applications. In this post, I will discuss all that I had to do, give my own personal experience as a college applicant, and you can hopefully use that as a guide for yourself!

Common application page open on student desk.

Your Essay

Perhaps the most vital part of any application you submit to a college is your personal essay. Emphasis on the word personal. This essay, usually limited to 650 words, gives colleges a better understanding of who you are and how dedicated of a person you are. Your grades and standardized test scores don’t necessarily give an accurate depiction of who you are as a person, which is why it is important to demonstrate how else you would contribute to a school apart from learning. Are you someone who gives back to a community? Do you have a story to tell that you learned from? As an example, I wrote my personal essay on my ethnic and immigrant background and how that has affected the way I work and study, as well as how it has shaped me as a person. Several colleges may also have supplemental questions asking why you would want to attend that school, among other things, but I did not have to do that.

Recommendation Letters

Your application will also require you to get recommendation letters from at least

two teachers. My best advice for this would be to have teachers who also know you on a personal level, not just how well you perform in the classroom. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who I had more than one class with. Because of that, these teachers would often talk with me after class and we would discuss things beyond class material. I also recommend asking a teacher you’ve had in your junior or senior years of high school. Having someone who only knew you in freshman year may not fully understand how much you have grown since then. Your junior and senior years demonstrate your most recent abilities and efforts.

Your Grades

Something I really wish I knew when entering high school is that your grades beginning from freshman year do matter. I don’t say that to try and worry anyone, as colleges do not look at individual grades across each semester you’ve studied. They look at how you performed overall each year, meaning they see your final grades across 4 years. Your GPA is indicative of this. While they do this, something that stands out incredibly to admissions teams is your improvement. If they see you were sort of slacking in your first two years of high school, yet you have made a tremendous difference in your grades, they may be understanding. What’s most important is to always try your best, whether that’s achieved from participating in class, doing your homework, studying hard, and so on.

#4: Standardized Testing

Whether you take the SAT or ACT, taking a standardized test when applying to colleges is very common and in some instances, essential. Several schools across the country are beginning to forgo this part of the application, as it may not necessarily be indicative of how well you actually perform in classes. However, just because these tests are starting to become optional doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the test if you are able to do so safely.

How should you prepare for these tests? There are plenty of resources available to help students perform as best as they can. Some ways people can do this is by hiring a tutor or purchasing one of those large books with practice tests and questions. Free resources are also available online, such as Khan Academy.

After You Submit

There is probably no better feeling in your senior year of high school then when you finish submitting all of your applications. All the hard work you’ve completed throughout your four years have paid off and now you’re ready for the next chapter in your life. While it truly is a satisfying feeling, people tend to slack off afterward, a phenomenon known as senioritis. One might think that admissions counselors will only see what they’ve put on their application and nothing after. However, that is far from the truth. Once you decide on which college you’re going to attend by National College Decision Day (May 1st), you must send them your final transcript. What this means is the college you have chosen will see all your grades throughout your high school career, including everything after you have submitted your application. If it is apparent you slacked off significantly in your second half of senior year, the college may rescind your admission. Be sure to stay on top of your studies after you click submit!


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