Colleges receive thousands and thousands of applications every year, which means that getting a place is highly competitive. Therefore, you need to make sure that you do everything right if you want to be accepted onto your dream program. Need some advice? Here are some of the main dos and don’ts to bear in mind as you’re applying.
Do: Get Organized
There’s a lot you need to think about and do when applying for college, so having a good system of organization is a big help. Make note of all the relevant deadlines, test dates, interview periods and other key pieces of information, and write a detailed list of all the tasks you need to complete before them. Start early, and plan out exactly what you’re going to do every day to ensure that you stay on track. It might not be the most exciting job in the world but improving your organizational skills now will benefit you for life!
Don’t: Miss Deadlines
This sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but you’d be surprised at how many students miss application deadlines. It’s particularly true for scholarships, because these often close earlier than the programs they’re funding you for. Remember that tasks such as obtaining transcripts and references can take a while, so don’t leave them until the last minute and risk running out of time.
Do: Research Your Options Thoroughly
Every single program at every single college is unique. That means you need to do some research to find out which ones are the most suitable for you personally. Take a look at university websites to find the curriculums that you’re most interested in studying, then check to learn more about the entry requirements and calculate your chances of acceptance. The more information you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to write a compelling personal essay about why you want to study that specific program at that specific institution.
Don’t: Just Copy Your Friends
Thinking of applying to NYU because all your friends are, even though it doesn’t offer your ideal program? Looking at law degrees because your parents think it will lead you to a great career, even though you have no interest in the subject? You’re not alone. It’s easy to get pressured into copying your friends or going along with what your family want, but the truth is that this almost always ends badly. You need to choose a college and a major that fit your passions and goals, otherwise you risk ending up stuck in a location you hate or studying a program that bores you.
Do: Sell Yourself In Your Personal Statement
Lots of people find the idea of selling themselves uncomfortable, but if you want colleges to choose you, then you need to show them why they should. Don’t be shy about highlighting your strengths and achievements – both in academia and your extracurricular activities. If you struggle for ideas of what to talk about, try asking a friend or school counselor for some advice. Prove to the admissions team that you’re not only capable of succeeding on their program, but that you’ll bring value to the college while you’re there. Don’t squander this opportunity to shine!
Don’t: Be Dishonest On Your Application
It’s sometimes tempting to bend the truth when applying to college; however, this is definitely a mistake. Admissions tutors see literally thousands of applications every year and get very good at spotting exaggeration and deception. Figure out how to paint yourself in the best possible light but be honest while doing so. Likewise, avoid belittling other people to make yourself sound better – it will only reflect badly on you.
Do: Study Hard
Dedicating yourself to your studies is one of the most effective strategies for getting into college. Institutions pay close attention to your GPA, SAT scores and similar academic results, so you want to make sure that yours are as good as they can be. Set aside regular time slots for study sessions and consider finding a friend to work with as a way to stay motivated. Remember that actively testing yourself on material is more effective than simply rereading your notes, and teaching others can be a great way to solidify your own learning. If there’s a subject you’re particularly struggling with, ask your teacher for extra tutoring to address the issue.
Don’t: Slack Off Or Cheat
When something is difficult, it can be tempting to give up or try and find a shortcut. This is not the way to go when you’re trying to get into college. If you attempt to cheat on your exams or coursework, there is a very high chance that you’ll get caught – in which case you can wave goodbye to your dream college. Even if you get away with it, you’re only going to struggle even more when you get to university. So, knuckle down and get the work done. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Do: Make Time For Self-Care
Applying for college can be all-consuming, but it’s important to take some time out for a little self-care. This will help you to sustain your motivation and effort for the long run and look after both your mental and physical health. Some popular options for self-care include watching your favorite movie, curling up with a good novel, meeting a friend for coffee and cake, meditating, going for a walk in nature, journaling, and engaging in a creative hobby such as art or music.
Don’t: Burn Out
Although often associated with overworked office staff, burnout is commonly seen among students too. It’s defined as a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, which tends to be caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It can leave you feeling drained, helpless, cynical and alone, making it hugely damaging to both your wellbeing and your cognitive functions – and therefore a disaster for college applications. If you notice any signs or symptoms of burnout, don’t ignore them. Ask for help when you need it and be sure to take time out to relax and recharge. Remember, getting into college is a marathon not a sprint!