Although I’m not one to lament over regrets, there are definitely a few things I would change if I could go back in time. The college application season comes sweeping in like a storm, and without guidance, it’s can be a nightmare to get through.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up:
- Don’t get ahead of yourself. The biggest mistake I made when applying was that I completely overestimated my ability. I applied to too many reach schools, such as Ivies, when I should have picked more target schools. It is good to have certain expectations and take a few risks when applying, but it is important to also be realistic.
- Don’t apply to too many colleges. I applied to about 15 schools, and even though 1-15 schools is considered reasonable, I realized 15 is far too many. I could have easily narrowed my list had I tried. Application fees, SAT/ACT score sending fees, and time spent writing college specific essays add up. Thus, a narrower list is not only much more efficient, but less of a hassle. Once you know your preferences, crossing off colleges is quite easy. A good format to follow is 2-3 reach schools, 2-3 target schools and 2 safety schools.
- Know what you want. A handful of my colleges were solely on my list because they were “top” schools for my preferred major. However, they were unreasonable for me either because a) too far, b) too expensive, and/or c) too competitive. Before adding an endless stream of colleges to your list, it is best to sit down and think about your preferences. Location, environment, cost and size are some important factors to consider. A great way to familiarize yourself with potential colleges are through college visits or simply surfing through their website.
- Don’t wait till deadlines. Procrastination is bad. Senioritis can hit hard, but start your college essays beforehand and space them out. Doing them at once can be extremely tiring and overwhelming. Early decision and early action deadline is November 1. Regular decision is usually January 1. To check for specific colleges, go to their website. Also, you do not have to wait till the deadline to submit applications! I was confused for a while as to when I could start submitting because unlike everything else in high school, the college application process is independent with no one guiding you through every step of the way. You can submit applications as soon as you finish them. Clicking submit for the first time is stressful, but the sooner, the better.
- Ask questions! Get all your doubts and questions clarified. Make sure to discuss your thought process with your parents and guidance counselor for input. If you get asked for a college alumni interview, take the opportunity! It is a great way to ask all your questions and get to know the college. Alumni interviews are usually casual and informal, so you can get your doubts clarified without fear.
- Don’t take rejection to heart. College decisions are extremely exciting and scary at the same time. For some people like me, rejection is hard to face. But, it’s okay. It’s difficult to explain some college admission decisions and the result may be quite different from your expectations. Do not let yourself down!
No matter which college you end up in, a bright future awaits you! Even if it is not your top choice, don’t be disheartened. College is a unique experience, so make the most of it!