Crafting a college application that will set you apart from the multitudes is no easy feat. Serious applicants will want to spend time perfecting their application forms and review them carefully before submitting.
College applications are different from school to school. Some are long, detailed forms, others fit on one sheet of paper. Whatever the school, though, there are some sections that are common to most applications:
Your SAT or ACT scores can automatically be sent directly to some of the school(s) you’re interested in as son as you take the test. This is a good idea because it avoids fees for sending your scores later. If you are worried about how you’ll do on the test, you can leave the college section blank and re-take the test multiple times until you’re happy with your score. You can then opt to send only the best scores you got to colleges
Many colleges will want a copy of your high school transcript either sealed or sent to them directly by your school. While grades are an important part of college admissions, they’re not the only factor that matters.
High School Achievements
If you’ve won academic awards or gotten other recognition, this is important to note. Even athletic achievements can be important; even if you don’t intend to play college sports, athletic achievements show that you were able to balance after-school athletic activities with homework and still were successful.
Personal Statement or Entry Essay
Your essay is the best place to mitigate any shortcomings in other parts of the application. Didn’t get the best grades, or is your extracurricular resume thin? This is the best place to explain why you would be a success in college in spite of any blemishes on your application.
Just like sports an other after-school activities, things you do in the community (volunteer work, scouting, etc.) can show that you are good at balancing schoolwork and your personal life. Colleges don’t want to just see your grades, they want evidence that you can balance your life successfully during the adjustment to college living.
Recommendation Letters and References
Get recommendation letters from appropriate sources. Are you applying to a religious school? Ask your church leader for a recommendation. If you play to play college sports, make sure you have a letter from one of your coaches. These recommendation letters should come from people who know you well enough to evaluate whether you’d make a good college student. Again, if any other parts of your application are thin, this is a good opportunity to have a recommendation letter that explains why you’re a good choice in spite of any problems on your application.
College applications usually come with a fee, typically $30-$60. This is why you don’t want to apply to every school in the state. Winnow your list down first, so you’re only spending money on the schools that are the best fit for you.
Once you have your application ready, get someone you trust to look it over for you. A fresh set of eyes can go a long way toward perfecting your application.