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  • Writer's pictureCOLLEEN LAKE '23

College Application DOs & DONTs

My name is Colleen Lake and I am a member of the graduating class of 2023. With less than two weeks until graduation and the college process wrapped up, I would like to lend some advice to the underclassmen applying to college in the upcoming years!

DO: Finish your Common Application essay over the summer.

This was advice I repeatedly received, yet did not realize the importance of this until the fall. After finishing my college essay over the summer during Ms. Adkins’s essay workshop, I was extremely grateful to be able to focus on my supplementals during the fall. Finishing my Common Application essay helped me focus on the other aspects of my application without having my essay as a constant stressor that I needed to complete before I could submit anything.

DON’T: Neglect your extracurriculars.

Extracurriculars are another crucial element of your application, but their importance is often overshadowed by aspects such as test scores and essays. However, extracurriculars can make or break your application so make sure to highlight the ones that are important to your passions, interests, and future goals.

DO: Reuse your supplementals when applicable.

Supplementals are a part of the college process I greatly underestimated when beginning my applications in the fall. Remember, supplementals are incredibly important as they convince the school of who you are as a person and how you would fit in at their institution. However, many supplemental topics are repetitive so you can modify and reuse your existing supplementals to save yourself time!

DON’T: Under or over apply.

After applying to 18 schools, I can tell you the number of schools you apply to matters! I am definitely glad I casted a wide net and gave myself a wide variety of options, but I regret spending my time applying to schools I knew I did not want to go to. Therefore, I would suggest only applying to schools you are genuinely interested in as a method of focusing your time on the schools that matter most to you.

DO: Get a second opinion on your essays.

Participating in Ms. Adkins essay workshop and getting advice from my counselor helped me both develop a topic for my Common Application essay and hone in on my essay’s overall theme. Even getting advice from friends and family members can improve your essays and help ease any doubts you have during the process.

DON’T: Wait until a regular decision deadline if early action is available.

Many schools offer both regular decision and early action, with early action having a deadline of November 1 and regular decision applications being due early January. While not all schools offer early actions, if a school you are interested in applying to offers early action take advantage of it! In addition to early action helping your chances of admission to a school, you do not want to be spending the duration of your Christmas break writing college essays!

DO: Remember a deferral is not a rejection.

If you do choose to apply early action or early decision to an institution, there is a chance your application will be postponed or deferred. A deferral means the school will reassess your application and release a new decision when a regular decision is released. However, a deferral is not a rejection! Many applicants who receive deferrals are accepted later on, so do not let this affect your interest in a school.

DON’T: Only apply to reach schools.

Remember to incorporate safeties (both financial and academic) into your college list. Having a school you know you can get into and afford from the beginning will help set a baseline for other decisions you may get down the road. In particular, apply to safeties you can see yourself going to, not just as a throw in backup.

DO: Trust your gut!

At the end of the day, you are making the decision which will guide the next four years of your life! Choose a school where you could genuinely see yourself thriving at, not just the best ranked school or the school where your friends are also going. Make the best decision for your financial and academic future.

From a senior overwhelmed and stressed by the college process, you’ve got this. Remember to reach out to your counselors for help when needed and make the decisions right for you. Good luck applying!

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