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Confronting College Applications

The intricate, not to mention, intensely stressful college application process begins at the start of senior year.

Diane Won

April 10, 2014

Confronting College Applications
Once September rolls around, you'll be reining in your final and most exciting year of high school. WOOHOO, senior year is about to begin! However, so will the start of completing some torturous forms. The intricate, not to mention, intensely stressful college application process technically begins at the start of senior year. It’s the time of year in which you have to fill out major paperwork that will alter the course of your life.

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College applications may be the highlight of a high school student’s life but, as a junior, I am dreading the whole ordeal. Compiling all the material together in addition to keeping track of the deadlines seems like doom to me. I am pumped, yet my nerve-racking perception of college overrides my delight. Prepping for next year’s proceedings, I carried out some research and decided on a couple of colleges to apply to.

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While getting my list of potential schools together, I took into account several factors that may be useful for your college search.

Picking Where to Apply

1. Mull over your college options. Think of location, size, and available housing. Even appearance is important.

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2. Would you rather go to a school close to home and in the suburbs or far, not to mention, urban? Picture yourself at that school walking to class. Look up the quality of the cafeterias, see how the libraries are. Measure your preference for student diversity. Painfully research your potential schools. 3. Have at least six colleges in mind. Applying to various universities increases your opportunities. Merely applying to a choice couple may disappoint. 4. Know your safety schools from your top choice schools! Select some backup institutions in the event that you are not admitted to your number one colleges. Safety schools are not meant for you to underestimate yourself. 5. Aim high- apply to the schools you feel are challenging to enter. It never hurts to apply. Acknowledge no limits and do what you want. Safety schools are solely what they are called, alternatives, or plan B if you will.

The Right Kind of Application

● Some colleges have their own applications. For example, University of California (UC) schools have a UC application. Also, the California State University (CSU) schools have the CSU application. ● Otherwise, the Common Application is the widely used college application. ● There is also the Universal College Application, currently accepted by 43 colleges. Different schools require different things. Certain schools have extra supplements to include with the application. If you have financial problems, the cost of college applications can be adjusted accordingly. If you qualify for free lunch at school along with waived ACT or SAT fees, you can get waivers for your college applications. Speak to your high school counselor about your options.

Submit Early Action or Early Decision?

One can only apply to one university under the Early Action or Early Decision plans. The other colleges you apply to must be under regular due dates. Early Action applications are sent in around November, before the official due date for various universities. Early Action is nonbinding.
On the other hand, applications submitted early decision are binding. Not only are these applications ceded prior to the due date, but also with early decision, you are committing to attend a school. Early decision leaves one with less wiggle room. If the Early Decision college accepts you, you are to withdraw your other applications and accept the financial aid offered to you. Often, applicants from low-income families get the short end of the stick, unable to compare aid packages. Yes, with these plans, you will be finished with the application process ahead of time allowing you the freedom to de-stress. Nevertheless, Early Action or Early Decision is not right for all. For regular admission, applications are to be submitted by the regular due date. Some schools have rolling admission, meaning that a university does not have a set deadline. Rolling admission schools admit students on a first come, first served basis during certain periods.

What the Application Entails

● Essay The essay is the personal part of the application. Simply put, you can express yourself. Define what makes you who you are, how you became the individual you are today, and what matters to you. Listening to the advice of others, unique writing is the way to go. Try your hardest not to write generic, trite material. Be you; form your essay to be your own. Choose a topic you can be passionate about. Compose your statement in a no-nonsense way. Flowery language or unnecessary lengthiness is not appreciated. ● ACT plus writing and/or SAT scores In most cases, the ACT Plus Writing or the SAT is valid when applying to college. The scores do not define your destiny, but do put your heart into testing. To an extent, your test results matter. ● Transcript What classes you took along with what grades you earned in high school are of utmost significance to colleges. Generally, your transcript is the most critical part of your application. Still, do not let your grades discourage you to the point that you do not apply to college. All components of the application are looked at. Moreover, no one is able to predict how colleges will accept applicants. ● Recommendation letters Many students request recommendations from their teachers and counselor. The number of recommendations needed differs from college to college. Recommendations are not considered by University of California (UC) institutions, nor are such letters asked for by California State Universities (CSUs). Other schools necessitate such documents. See your schools of choice for details. ● Interview Interviewing with a college is optional and can only bolster your image, as long as you make a suitable first impression. An interview may be evaluative or informative. Either the admissions officer who interviews you is seriously contemplating your responses to ensure fitting admittees or the officer is simply giving you advice. Prepare your questions for the interviewer beforehand. Attempt to ready yourself for potential inquiries about your life in addition to your thoughts concerning the future.

Dates to Remember

● Applications are usually available in October. ● Due dates for college applications vary depending on what college you apply to. ● Don’t forget to sign up for financial aid and scholarships yearlong after you turn in your college applications. ● The majority of universities release results in March.


1. To avoid technological complications when applying online, begin applications early and finish quickly. No waiting until the last minute to push that entry button... 2. Accomplish everything in an orderly, organized manner. 3. Create a checklist for each application and carefully mark due dates. Set aside a planner for everything college-related. 4. Thoroughly review applications in search of errors. Sit on the applications for a couple days before sending if that helps. 5. Relax a little but do not catch senioritis. The end of your college applications is not the end of high school. Colleges may confiscate admission from slacking seniors. To survive the college application, one must play it cool and stay alert. Always checking due dates and finishing tasks on time is ESSENTIAL. Indeed, the college application process is a scary time. After all, this application is nearly like a rite to adulthood. The college application is another part of growing up. Once you are accepted to colleges, celebrate your victories. Do not brood over the rejection letters. You came this far; you are finally done with high school. You can’t afford misery. Feel bad for those schools that will not revel in the honor of your presence. Your attitude determines the joy of your path. I wish you the best of luck in your journey to higher education!

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