Archive for July 18th, 2014|Daily archive page

Tips to jump-start your college application

Whether your summer plans involve flipping burgers, lounging at the shore, or obsessively watching every World Cup game, we recommend five simple steps that won’t overly-detract from your summer vacation but will give you a leg up in the college admissions process come the frenetically-paced autumn months that loom ahead.

1. Demonstrate Interest

Carve out a few moments to show your prospective colleges some love. Trust us, with yield rate statistics causing admissions officers many restless nights, making schools feel wanted can leave a favorable impression. Whether or not a student showed interest in the form of a campus visit, an email, or time surfing the university website can become a factor come admission time. Colleges want great students, but they really want great students who are genuinely interested in attending their institution.

2. Request Letters of Recommendation

Separate yourself from the panicked masses who, in a few months time, will be begging their favorite teacher to crank out a recommendation 48 before their application deadline. Trust us, recommenders will appreciate your proactive approach and may even utilize the extra time to write a more thoughtful, detailed letter. Additional tips include supplying your recommender with a resume to better inform their testimonial as well as picking an individual who knows you intimately rather than someone prominent who doesn’t know you at all (admissions officers see mountains of generic letters from Congress members signed in autopen).

3. Work on the Common App Essays

There will be no further changes to the common app essay prompts in the 2014-15 admissions cycle, which means you are free to begin them now. Click here for brainstorming advice on each of the five prompts that will help you decide which essay will inspire your best story and win the hearts and minds of admissions officers. Trying to pre-write and generate ideas can cause undue stress when attempted weeks from an application deadline, in the middle of studying for exams. Let the ideas flow while the gentle (and sort of creepy) melodies of the Mr. Softee truck still play on.

4. Complete the Students Activities Resume

When it comes to listing your extracurricular achievements, the goal is not to fill a single-spaced page in 6 point font with a record of every single action you’ve ever taken as a human being. Admissions personnel are looking for depth over breath and want to see evidence of leadership, commitment, and burgeoning passion that will carry over to their respective campus. In other words, leave off that afternoon as a freshman when you attended a Model U.N. interest meeting, only to embarrassingly realize that it was not, as you assumed, a club for building miniature replicas of embassy buildings.

5. Finalize your College List

Developing your college list can be a lot more challenging than it sounds. It’s easy to get caught up dreaming about one’s top choice school, yet it’s important to have not just multiple irons in the fire, but the right irons (all you blacksmiths out there know what I’m talkin’ about!). Remember admission to Ivy and Ivy-level colleges can never be taken for granted so you’ll need to diversify that portfolio. Also make sure to pick at least one financial safety school in case you end up on the short end of the merit aid chase.

Rising seniors, Enjoy this well-earned respite from hard work. Relish the opportunity to enjoy a late breakfast while taking in a Honduras/Ecuador scoreless tie. That being said, if you can find an hour here and there to work on the above activities, you will thank yourself in just a few short months.

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