Applying for college is a hair-pulling, nail-biting time of life for both parents and students alike. You know there are mistakes and pitfalls, just as you know there are secrets to help pave your way. But nothing about the process is cut and dry – actually, the waters around the admissions process are always a bit muddy.
Here are five go-to admissions tips for college-bound hopefuls:
1. Answer All Optional Questions
Optional answers should not be passed over because you are tired of filling out forms. They are the perfect opportunity to give your application that special boost in the eyes of an admissions officer. Think of it as extra credit – the kind you really need to get a slam dunk on a test.
2. Have an Appropriate Email Address
Is the email you’ve been using with your friends not all-together…mature? Email is fast becoming the communication of choice between colleges and students, so make sure yours isn’t something like “honeybuns757.” It only takes a couple of minutes to open a new account, so make sure you pick something appropriate.
3. Demonstrate Interest in the School Before Applying
If two applicants have similar credentials and achievements, but only one has previously shown an interest in the school, guess who is likely to get picked? It’s easy to demonstrate interest. Simply visit the college’s website and fill out an online inquiry form, schedule a visit (and make sure you include the name of the person you’ve met with), or speak in person with a school representative at a college fair.
4. Don’t Use the “Score Choice” Option When you Take the ACT or SAT
When taking these particular tests, you have the option of listing a limited number of colleges to which you can send your test scores for free. Yet, if you wait to see what your scores are first, you will be charged to send them. Kids often hesitate to send their scores, thinking “what if my score isn’t the greatest?” However, most colleges consider those who have chosen to have their scores sent to them directly and confidently among their “hottest prospects,” particularly those who send them in advance – even the spring of their junior year. These students will receive information about school programs, scholarship opportunities, off-campus interviews, and many other goodies.
5. Don’t Dismiss the Supplemental Application
If the college you are applying to has a supplemental application – take it seriously. It can be just as important as the main application (sometimes called the Common Application.) Colleges request supplemental applications or personal statements/essays for a very good reason. Even if you’ve already written an essay during the main portion of the application, a supplemental essay can set you apart from the competition, and even put you in the running for special programs or scholarships.