Monday, December 22, 2014

How I Knew I Was REALLY Done With College Apps



I went back home for Thanksgiving break and met up with a couple current high school senior friends for brunch. Over lattes and honey toast, I told them about my new exciting life at college and they, in turn, recounted all their struggles with AP Lit, senioritis, and – of course – college applications.

It was a little surreal, to be honest. I was in their place one year ago, feeling the same anxieties, even applying to some of the same schools. When you’re applying to colleges, sometimes it feels like the only thing you can think about are deadlines creeping up left and right, threatening to suck you in. But life goes on, and I promise you there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s a checklist to get you there faster:

Let Go of Your Essays

Okay, you’ve edited them enough, you really have. They tell you to show your essay to as many people as possible for different perspectives and feedback, but I’ve always felt that’s a little overwhelming for someone applying to college. What if two people give you directly contrasting advice? Instead, just see the feedback as constructive criticism that you can either take or not take to heart.

And there really is a point where you don’t need to keep feverishly editing your essays. Enough editing, enough checking for typos. Once you think your message has been expressed and people reading your drafts agree, and once you think your essay displays your grasp of language well, you’re good to go. College admissions officers want to see you can think and write, but once you’ve gotten those two things down, there’s no reason to overexert yourself.

Wrap Up the Paperwork

Transcripts and mid-year reports, test scores from CollegeBoard, financial aid documents are all pieces of paperwork that need to make it to your colleges one way or another by the deadline. Figure out early on what paperwork your school will take care of (often transcripts), and what you and your parents need to send to your school (usually test scores and “finaid” like FAFSA and CSS). With so much paper flying around, it’ll be easy to lose track of test scores to one school or a missed page of your financial aid application to another. But your organization will pay off once the paperwork is submitted, and then you can breathe easy.

Set Up Any Interviews

Two of the schools I applied to required I interview with an alumni in the area, while other schools offered the option of visiting and interviewing with an admissions officer in person. While the second option wasn’t possible for me time-wise and money-wise, I enjoyed interviewing with them and discussing what could be my future home for the next four years.

Interviews like mine take place in the second half of the month, coordinated through email until you decided on a date and location; for instance, I interviewed for one school after requesting the interview through the college’s website with an alumni. The other one I had was with a current student who was taking time out of her weekend to speak to eager applicants to her school. Treat these interviews more as opportunities to get to know the school through an actual student or graduate, rather than something to get nervous about like a job interview. And once it’s over, you’ll be busy looking forward to college.

Submit And Enjoy!

For a high school senior, there’s nothing more beautiful than that row of green check marks on the Common App dashboard page. You’ve finished editing your essays, sorted out all the paperwork issues, and thoroughly charmed your interviewer. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy your second semester to the fullest.

How are your apps coming along? What are you looking forward to most about second semester senior year? Let us know in a comment below!

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