When I applied to college, I was the first one in my family to apply using the Common Application. The pages of information seemed endless and overwhelming. If I had to do it over (and thankfully I don't), here is what I would do differently.
1. Have Someone Proofread the Entire Application
Since the essays are the main part of the Common App, I didn't bother excessively proofreading the entire application or giving it to someone else to proofread. Instead, I just looked over it a few times. This was a mistake. I misspelled "treasurer" on the activities part. Once I caught my mistake, I had already submitted my application. I spent days worrying about my minor misspelling. In the end, I was still accepted to my dream school, but the unnecessary stress was not worth it.
2. Understand Your School's Standardized Testing Policy
Once you're a senior, you may believe that cramming for the ACT is behind you. However, test scores aren't just used for admission.They are also used to determine if you will need remedial classes. Remedial classes typically count as zero hours, yet you have to put in the same amount of effort and money as a normal class. Save yourself the future headache and retake the ACT or subject tests if your school has certain limits.
3. Limit College Applications
I applied to five schools, which isn't a lot compared to some people. However, out of those five schools, I knew I only wanted to go to two. I applied to the other colleges only because everyone else was. I could have saved money and time if I only applied to the schools I knew I would go to. It's okay to only apply to two or three schools, as long as you have a safety school. Make sure the schools you do apply to are schools you can see yourself at.
4. Ask for Help on Applications, Including FAFSA
When applying to college, you also have to worry about scholarships, homework, volunteer activities, sports, clubs, etc. It's OK to ask for help. Your guidance counselor or someone who has gone through the process before will know what to do. Make sure to ask for help on the FAFSA, as some of the questions may seem a bit tricky.
5. Don't Waste Away Your Senior Year
I remember I checked my email probably a million times (okay maybe not a million) when I was waiting for my decision letter. If I wasn't frantically checking my email, I was looking at stats of students who got into my school and comparing myself to them. In the end, this did nothing but cause stress and worry. Instead do something productive with your time, hang out with your friends or watch a movie, you'll miss those little moments when you're at college.
Senior year will fly by, and soon you will be at an amazing college of your choice. Don't stress the small stuff, and enjoy the little things in life. Hug your friends and family close, savor home cooked meals and pet your dogs a little extra.
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