college applications

COLLEGE ESSAY MASTERPOST

For many students, the beginning of senior year marks the start of the “official” college season. Hopeful applicants are jumping right into the thick of transcripts, extracurricular lists, and essays as deadlines draw near. One of the most anxiety-inducing parts of applying for college is crafting the perfect personal statement!

To aid all of you fledgling essay writers, I’ve compiled a list of helpful sources with tips, tricks, advice, do’s and don’ts, and more below!!! (This will be added to often!)

Good luck babies I believe in you!!

    Let’s get started!

    Videos

    Ivy League (and other super competitives)

    UC Essays

    Common Application

     Essay Examples

George Washington University stopped requiring SAT scores — and an amazing thing happened

In the summer of 2015, George Washington University became the largest top-ranking private university in the country to make including results of standardized tests like the SATs and ACTs optional when applying for undergraduate admission. Doing so is not only helping the school, but the most underserved students as well.

How Not to Write a College Essay

10 Tips Guaranteed to Get You a Skinny Envelope This Spring
by Elizabeth Preston


1. Be general. Instead of using anecdotes to get a point across, speak in broad generalizations. Pepper your essay with proclamations rather than personal detail. The sentence “When I was 16 I helped my uncle dig his bakery out of the rubble left by Hurricane Arthur,” for example, is no good. Try “Hardships teach life lessons.” Or simply “Colleges should admit students.”

2. Don’t mention goals or the future. Focus on the past. Dwell on your regrets, especially trivial ones, such as that scooter you never got for your ninth birthday.

3. Don’t be concise. Why should you shorten your writing for the sake of a reader’s time? The more your essay resembles a multivolume fantasy saga, the better.

4. Avoid coherence. Put ideas on the page in the order they occur to you. Forgo segues.

5. Test out your stand-up material. A college essay is an ideal venue for jokes. Classic humor genres that rely on group stereotypes, such as “How many ____ does it take to screw in a light bulb?” or “Three ____ walk into a bar,” are best.

6. Lie. Instead of writing about Hurricane Arthur and those eight days spent sweating over a shovel, wouldn’t it be more fun to write about that time you invented a vaccine for chikungunya?

7. Ignore instructions. Different colleges may have different sets of guidelines about what to write and how to submit your application materials. These are annoying and you should disregard them.

8. Ignore conventions of grammar and spelling. You’re a creative thinker; why be bound by the “rules” of traditional English? If your Word document has so many red and green squiggles that it resembles a novelty Christmas sweater, you’re on the right track.

9. Don’t be yourself. Let’s face it—you’re not very interesting. Try writing as someone quirky but mysterious. Be the reluctant heir to the throne of Denmark. Be a non-carbon-based life form.

10. Don’t write a college essay. How about sending the admissions officers something they don’t see every day? We recommend a potted plant, preferably unattractive and/or carnivorous.  


Elizabeth Preston lives in Massachusetts and writes about science and other sundries. Her blog, Inkfish, is published by Discover. Ruling Denmark is really going to cut into her time for tropical disease research. Folow her on Twitter @Inkfish.

HOW TO WRITE THE ‘WHY US’ COLLEGE ESSAY

So I recently got a request to do an in-depth post on how to write the ‘why us’ college essay. I know I struggled a bit with this type of essay and hopefully this post will help you guys out.

1) DO NOT USE THE SAME ESSAY FOR ALL YOUR SCHOOLS

Just don’t do it. I think it’s one of the worst things you can do to show interest. Chances are, if you’re reusing the same essay for all your schools, you haven’t done your research and aren’t committed. This essay could be the factor that switches you from the reject or waitlist pile to the accepted pile. Think about it, if you had too similar candidates, both were strong in all aspects but one of them showed a lot of interest in the school in the ‘why us’ essay, who would you pick? Colleges can even pick the ‘weaker’ candidate who shows more interest because they want people who are committed to their school and are willing to matriculate. Show them that you’re committed and write different essays for each school.

2) DO YOUR RESEARCH

This means more than looking on U.S. News to check the college’s ranking and other mundane facts that are easily accessible. You want to demonstrate genuine interest in the college and not be superficial. Make a document and just bullet out all of the research for each school. Here are some things that should be included in your research:

  • Campus Visits: This is one of the other uses college visits have besides assessing fit. Did you visit the campus over the summer and fall in love with it? Indicate it in your essay. If the rural or urban setting plays a big role in campus life, then definitely mention how that came to play in your decision. For example, a school like Columbia or UChicago, both of which are deeply intertwined with their respective cities or a school like Dartmouth which is also very dependent on its location. Talk about that one gelato shop on campus that you fell in love with or the nature trails you visited etc.
  • Professors: Another indicator of interest. Ideally, you should have met with a professor on your campus visit. But this discussion should have been more than just a ‘hello’ and shaking of hands. Don’t name drop professors if you’ve never interacted with them and know nothing about what they really do. Only include talking to professors if you’ve discussed their subject matter or something else meaningful with them. If you haven’t had the chance to meet professors, fear not! This is what google’s for. Look at the listings of professors for your prospective major. Take a few minutes of your time to browse their websites and see what classes they teach, what books/articles they’ve written, what ideas they’ve pioneered. In my Why UChicago essay, I quoted a French professor who compared people to chess pieces (my interests are French and chess). It doesn’t have to be something monumental, it just has to show that you’ve taken the time to explore the school and prospective major you’ve chosen.
  • Alumni: If you know anyone who attended the school you’re applying to and they’ve helped you choose the school or learn more about it. You could mention them in your essay. Talk about what characteristics you see in them that make them successful at X College and how you exemplify those traits. Did you have an interview with this college before you submitted your application? Mention some of the stuff your interviewer talked about. Again, this shows that you’ve taken the time to explore and are dedicated to the school. 
  • Majors: Look at the website for the department of your intended major and see what they offer that makes them unique. Look at the history of the school you’re applying to with respect to your intended major. What makes this school unique? For example, the University of Michigan was one of the first schools to have computers on campus and they have a long history of a strong computer science program. The computer language BASIC was invented on Dartmouth’s campus. Little facts like this show that you’re interested. Don’t just list the facts because then they become trivial and they lose their meaning in the context of your essay. Tie the facts in to your desire to become a computer science major since you were ten when you built a computer from scratch with your dad. Since then you’ve learned numerous programming languages and have attended numerous computer science camps and it would really help your education to study at a university that’s been a pioneer in this domain for decades. If you don’t know your major, look at what departments you’re interested in and pick the one you like most and relate that to your life.
  • Programs/Extracurriculars: Does your school have a unique program that would help further your academic or extracurricular pursuits? Mention it in context to your life. For example, UChicago’s unique Careers in Law and Careers in Medicine programs which help undergrads attend lectures and seminars, get grad school application help, and get good internships in their desired fields of law or medicine. Did you attend a Model UN conference on the college’s campus and realize that you wanted to be a part of this college’s award winning Model UN team? Mention it. Did you attend a summer program or summer school at this college where you were exposed to the campus, professors, current students, alumni etc. and fell in love? Mention it. Does this college offer a unique study abroad opportunity that you just have to go on? Mention it. These are just some examples of the stuff you can mention on this essay. Look beyond academics and see what this college offers that others don’t.
  • Those Pamphlets You Have Under Your Bed: Now’s the time to dig up all that college mail and college emails from this college that you’ve received over the years and reread it. Look for the obvious stuff like programs and academics but also on how the college describes itself. Is the college very academically oriented or is it athletically driven. What profile does your college fit and how do you fit in? Look up the college’s motto, mascot, fight song etc. and relate them to your life. College mail is usually a good indicator of how the college views itself and use this in your essay.
  • Miscellaneous: Does this college have any unique traditions that you’d like to be a part of? For example the UChicago scavenger hunt. It doesn’t have to be that big but it could be small, like the $1 smoothie Wednesdays and the free tea and cookies every day at a certain time (I forget when) in one of Dartmouth’s libraries. A simple google search can give you this information. There are also unofficial sayings that go around that could be used in your essay, such as “Where fun goes to die” to describe UChicago. Look up the unique tidbits that don’t make it on the website or pamphlet.

3) PRESENTATION

Now that you’ve done all the brunt work, it’s time to organize it all into a concise but interesting essay. The key here is to be interesting and not just list the facts; relate it to you. Weave in one of your interests of hobbies with the ‘Why Us’ part and show how those two pieces complement each other. This is where I would recommend you check out some of the Why UChicago essays people have posted on college confidential. This is the only time I would ever tell you to use that website because it’s toxic but the UChicago people are some of the most unique and creative people I’ve seen and their essays are brilliant. Look at how they weave their interests with the why us narrative to get a good essay. **** This is probably obvious to almost everyone but I’m going to say it, don’t copy their ideas. Use them as inspiration but don’t do anything remotely similar. Plagiarism has serious consequences including a rescinding of your acceptance **** They make it into a story and this is what you should strive to do. If you can do it successfully, it will set you apart from the pack and increase your odds of acceptance. In my ‘Why UChicago’ essay, I related the notation of a really good move in chess with attending UChicago. It made my essay unique and related my personality and interests with the school (I got accepted if you’re wondering). The key is to outline the research you’ve done in a way that makes it easy for the readers to see how you’d fit in with the college. As I’ve said before, don’t let them make assumptions because they’ll assume wrong and it will hurt your application. Help them help you.

4) REVISE

Once you’ve written a draft of the essay you’re happy with, revise, revise, revise. The four draft rule I mentioned in my other college essay post is still valid. Shoot for four drafts to make sure your essay is solid. Things to look for while revising can be found here in my other college essay post. There’s also the informal word limit I mentioned: shoot for less than 650 words because the college admissions people are reading hundreds of essays a day and they will most likely not read your essay in its entirety if you go over 650 words. Being concise is key. As always, don’t name drop and list facts, INTEGRATE them and explain them. Colleges know what’s on their website but how is it relevant to you? The college application process is about you.

Well, I hope this helped you guys write a strong ‘Why Us’ college essay. Hit up my ask if you have any questions and good luck!

How to tell a good story on your college application essay

Here’s the structure that most American films use. Learning this may change the way you watch films (it did for me). It’s a structure as old as time and storytellers have been using it for thousands of years. Joseph Campbell called it the monomyth or Hero’s Journey. I’ll refer to as narrative structure. Its basic elements are:

  1. Status Quo
  2. Inciting Incident/Status Quo Change
  3. Raise the stakes
  4. Moment of Truth
  5. Outcome/New Status Quo

Status Quo

Life as is. The hero, our main character, is living his/her normal life.

Inciting Incident/Status Quo Change

One day, something happens. A boy discovers he is a wizard (Harry Potter). A girl falls down a rabbit hole (Alice in Wonderland). A murder happens (almost every mystery). You get the idea. In short, the hero is called to adventure.

Raising the Stakes

Things get more dangerous and important.

  • In small dramas, the events become more important inwardly, to our main characters’ personal lives, threatening to change them forever.
  • In action movies, events become more important outwardly, escalating until not only our characters’ lives are threatened, but the country, the world, then (in big budget films) Civilization as We Know It.
  • In some films, the character’s inward journey (what s/he must learn) and outward journey (what s/he must do) are intertwined. See: Star Wars, Avatar, The Dark Knight.

Moment of Truth

The climax. The moment of highest tension. The character must make the Ultimate Choice or fight the Ultimate Battle.

  • Will Beauty kiss the Beast and save his life? (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Will Neo realize—and accept—his role as The One before it’s too late? (The Matrix)
  • Will Frodo destroy the Ring and save Middle Earth? (Lord of the Rings)

Outcome/New Status Quo

The result.

as this app season draws to a close, i thought i’d share my college app process-timeline as a high school senior who has just finished applying!

let’s go!

  • sophomore year: just start thinking and poking around
  • junior year: start looking in depth at schools. consider things like location, strength of academic program, cost, size, etc.
  • winter/spring of junior year: take both the SAT and ACT and multiple times (2-3ish), if you can. these tests are not going to be something you’ll want to do your senior year. sat: jan/march/may. act: feb/apr/june. also, d o  n o t plan to pre-send your scores
  • spring of junior year: ask 3ish teachers for rec letters. 2ish teachers that teach what you’ll study, 1ish that really knows you. don’t wait until your senior year to ask; the teachers may not write them on time!
  • spring of junior year: start brainstorming for your common app essay
  • summer before senior year: plan some visits or do virtual tours! seeing the schools can c o m p l e t e l y change your opinion
  • summer before senior year: write the common app essay, have some ppl edit it, and start sending off apps that don’t require supplements
  • fall of senior year: prioritize apps for any schools that have early action, rolling admissions, or earlier deadlines for scholarship consideration
  • fall/winter of senior year: write your supplements, look for outside scholarships as well, and retake a standardized test if necessary. send your transcripts, test scores, and the css profile
  • winter/spring of senior year: fill out the fafsa, get into college!!
  • may 1st of senior year: send in that deposit (this is a national deadline). you’re going to college!

remember, this timeline is a guideline, not a rule! everyone’s app process will be a little different, but i hope yours are all smooth!

My college essay writing process

If anyone’s interested here’s what I do.
1. Look at the prompt
1a. Check if there’s any overlap with previous prompts I’ve written to before: this could mean reusing parts of or whole essays
2. If it’s a fresh prompt you gotta be a big girl. Free write. Don’t be afraid of rambling just let out all of your emotions and ideas in sentence form. Don’t pay attention to the word limit or cohesiveness just go for it.
3. At this point, you’ve probably hit writers block since all your frustration is out. Good. Now go to wordcounttools.com or whatever to see how much bs you’ve written and how much over or under you are of the limit. If you’re under, okay you have space to write more if you want. If over, time to cut it down a bit.
4. Look for any patterns or possible cohesiveness in your essay. See what ideas you can link together and which ones you can take out that are too weak, or offensive, or you just don’t like them or don’t relate to the prompt.
5. Move stuff around. Put like ideas together. Try to have some sort of order to the ideas like a flow.
6. Fix your grammar.
7. Look for an intro body and conclusion to your essay. If there isn’t throw it in.
8. Read it out loud. Does it sound strong and powerful? Does your author’s voice shine through? How do you know? Paste it to Hemingway. Do most of what Hemingway tells you; lose adverbs, more active verbs, less passive voice.
9. Send it to your guidance counselor and ask them to read it and give feedback.
10. Take feedback and fix it.
Try to get the released essays done over the summer. I hope yall get into wherever you’re applying! Let me know if this was helpful.

College Application Resources

Hello everyone!

I wanted to make a post of helpful college websites, tools, etc that I use, to share with everyone else. 

Don’t know if your ACT or SAT scores are better? Check out this link that shows you a chart comparing ACT and SAT scores

Want to read honest reviews of a college and not just Student Profiles on colleges’ websites? Check out this website that has ratings in several different categories from current or past students. Make sure to check each one, a C in drug safety may mean there aren’t drugs and people don’t like that, or it could mean there are drugs and the people reviewing are unhappy about it.  Just read it all. 

Aren’t exactly sure how you stack up to be admitted? Check out this website (it’s the same one, I know) that allows you to create a simple profile and then ask what your chances are.  Please remember, this is not 100% accurate nor is it done by admissions counselor.  It just gives you a ball park. 

Have an interview coming up? Be prepared by reading this article that details how to prepare for an interview.  Just don’t forget, be yourself, be respectful, and be enthusiastic!

Can’t decide which application is best for you? This can be a tricky topic, so to get the full scoop, check out this helpful guide that breaks down the pro’s and con’s for each type of admissions plan. 

Need help with the “Why” Essay? Check out my detailed post on it. 

If you have any questions, my inbox is always open and I would love to talk to people!  

how to write college essays

Hey guys! This is Peng’s first post in the college prep advice series. I felt obligated to write this one as my first because, well, I’m a freshly pressed senior who was recently admitted to my dream school via early decision. And I feel that I was accepted mostly for my essay, so hey, why not help other students out as well? So without further ado, here is my advice on how to write the best college essay you can…
  
(NOTE: I am talking about the “Why __” essays. Other prompts may be too various for me to cover in one essay. Ask me and I might help you, though!)


INTRODUCTION: Why is it important?

College essays are often noted as the largest or one of the most reflective parts of a student’s college application (to an American university). People often say that while the numbers (the GPA, the SAT scores, etc.) reflect the “objective” sides of the prospective student, the “subjective” side is best represented through the student’s own writing. Through short answers and essays, you as a student must prove yourself not just a statistical fit but also a personality fit with the college.

In this aspect, it is first most important, before even starting your essay or even adding that college to your Common App list, is to think whether you are the right fit for the college. I’m not talking about stats–I’m talking about the studying environment, the location (city? countryside? suburban?), the demographics (are you overwhelmed when there is a very low percentage of your own race/ethnicity, or does it not matter?), offered majors, etc. Don’t just think about whether they have a good pre-med track, think about whether there are other majors or subjects you can switch to in the case that you might change your mind in college (this is important because many, many students change their minds. After all, a whole bunch can happen when you’re in a totally new environment with new people and a whole new level of learning).

  

PART 1: Play it smart. It’s a game.

Let’s face it–the college app process is a crapshoot. Don’t take it too seriously - they’re not judging you as a human being (in all honesty–it’s up to no one to judge you!). College is a business and they want to buy good products. So your job is to understand the motto of the “company” (the college’s motto) and then be able to present yourself as the product they want. I mean, think about it: the decision making process is nothing more than a group of people judging four years of your life (through a few numbers and a few written works) in order to see whether you’ll thrive in X college and make X college proud. It’s a human-run process that is prone to, well, human-like errors. So don’t get too tied up emotionally in the college app process (I’ll make a better post on this later). It’s okay to be stressed, but try not to go to the point where you think your life will be over if you don’t get in. That’s not a healthy attitude to maintain in the long run (even if you do get in). You need to detach yourself emotionally, evaluate the situation with only logic (what can I do to get in? - while also knowing it’s totally okay if you don’t), and then carry through with your plan.

Therefore, once you are sure that you want to apply to this college, it is then important to understand the college. By understanding, I’m not talking about knowing its history; I’m talking about knowing what the admissions officers (henceforth called AOs) want. Some colleges like the academically rigorous. Others like the academically passionate. Others still like those who aren’t top-notch “book smart” but have an undying curiosity in all realms of knowledge. Others yet search for those who can balance a tight schedule. Some might like those who are giving and compassionate and are willing to use their talents to help those in need. Whatever X college wants or claims to be their “pride,” you must show them through your essay. You have to give them what they want in order for them to want you.

Keep reading

Okay darlings, it’s application season, and for those of you about to go through it, I am officially your appblr big sister. I know how difficult this process can be, so I am going to do all that I can to make your lives easier, lets do this thing! 

Applying to a bunch of schools gives you many choices, but it doesn’t make your final choice any easier

Believe me, I’ve been there. When I was going through this process I applied to not five, not ten, but sixteen different universities. That’s right, you heard me, sixteen. I was under the impression that the more schools I have available to me, the easier it will be for me decide, and wow was I wrong. 

You know when you go to an ice cream shop and they have 40 different flavors? And you walk in the door and it’s practically impossible for you to decide which one you’re going to choose? Yet if you go to a tiny shop with only chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry as options, it’s super easy for you to make a choice? This is the same process. With all of those tempting options laid out in front of you, it makes it very difficult to decide the best for you. 

As tempting as it may be, I urge you to keep a short list for colleges you actually apply to. This doesn’t mean to stop considering schools altogether, but applying to every single school you are considering is a real life struggle. 

Some applications cost money, and that money adds up. Find the loopholes!

The majority of public, big name schools (such as The University of Florida/University of Illinois) have application fees that you cannot avoid. However, nearly all private schools will grant an application fee waiver, whether it be on academic merit or because of a financial burden. Send an email, make a phone call - just ask! 

The application process may put a strain on your friendships, and it’s not going to be easy

The entire application process is a competition, and when you and your friend apply to the same school, there is always a chance that you may not both get the same decision. With this in mind, please stay supportive, and please stay strong. Kindly congratulate your friends, be as genuinely happy for them as you would yourself. On the other hand, stay humble about your acceptances, always. 

Early Action, Early Decision, and Early Decision II are life-savers

First of all, Early Decision is binding, and upon admittance you have to withdraw the rest of your applications, so if you do apply ED, make sure that university is your number one choice. Early Action is non-binding, and a wonderful way to get your application in the pile before anyone else. (Also, EA decisions come out far earlier than regular decisions and if you are denied you have the chance to apply again). All of these options do obviously require you to submit your applications earlier than you would normally have to, but it makes it so that you can spread out your applications over time, and even get your decisions before most other students submit an application. 

I promise, it is not the end of the world if you don’t get into your dream school

I got denied from my dream school. Yup, it happened - I was waitlisted twice before the denial. The one school I was denied from was the only school I was fully and entirely in love with. It sucks, it is painful, but I promise that you will fall in love with another university again. After I was denied I was convinced that I would be settling for wherever I decided to attend, I was entirely wrong. The moment I stepped foot on my college’s campus that I am attending now, it felt like home, and the decision was easy. If you are denied, keep looking, keep visiting, keep trying. You will find a new dream school, and you will be happy.

Your senior grades are absolutely relevant

Even if you apply ED or EA and don’t have to submit senior year grades upon applying, they are still absolutely vital, and universities will rescind your admittance/scholarships if your grades drop drastically. Senioritis is real, but you can overcome it. Stay focused, continue to work just as hard as you have these last eleven years.  

If any of you lovely people ever need any advice or just someone to talk to, I’ve got you, and I can try my absolute best to answer any and all questions that you may have. Good luck with your applications, sweetie-pies, you’ve got this.

It’s that time of year where seniors frantically apply to their dream schools while dealing with extracurriculars, jobs, outside scholarships, overbearing parents, and the huge cloud of anxiety hanging over their heads. As a current senior this is, to say the least, overwhelming, and I wish I knew more about the college process before the end of my junior year, so I thought I’d put a list of tips I’ve discovered over the course of a few months:

1. Your college list


  • Make a list of colleges you’re considering or heard of, whether it’s 5 or 50, and begin looking at whether they have Early Action (apply early where you don’t have to attend once accepted), Early Decision (apply early and you have to attend once accepted), and Regular Decision (normal and most used application type where you are notified in March-April about your acceptance/rejection).
  • After you have established these categories within the colleges, research the colleges that have early action decisions. Pay attention to their location, size, student population, extracurriculars, MAJORS, and anything else you value as important(for me it was my intended major(s) and scholarship opportunities). If you’re not sure about what factors you’re considering then start with the in state/regional colleges first that have early action applications and then go out of state/out of region.
  • Eliminate any college that has a minimum amount of your desired factors and if you’re undecided eliminate the ones that will give you the least amount of financial aid(you can check their school scholarships and even do a estimated cost calculator).
  • Go through the Early Decision (the ones w/o any early action) colleges and do the exact same thing!
  • If you have any colleges left then go through those as well.
  • Depending upon how many colleges you had listed to begin with, look up at least 3 colleges a week (if you have a list of 40+ colleges then try to do more on the weekends or your school breaks). This is an easy way to go through your colleges. I’ve advised this to some friends who had no idea where to start and it’s helped them :)
  • Look at the class profiles (average ACT/SAT scores, average GPA’s) of each college you have still on your list. Label each college in one of the three categories: safety, match, and reach.


  1. Safety: Usually have a 56%+ acceptance rate. Your GPA and standardized test scores are way above the average. Safeties can also be determined by the amount of extracurriculars(EC’s) you have, community service hours, awards, sports, and etc. I mentioned the latter factors because not everyone has high grades and/or test scores :) These colleges would also offer you good financial aid. If you’re unsure about it being a safety, look at students you know that have been accepted and compare. You can also tell by the academic rigor. For example: Harvard is not a safety for ANYBODY but Arizona State or Penn State might be. Most in-state schools fall into this category.
  2. Match: 35-55% acceptance rate. Your test scores and GPA are a little above average or right below it. These are usually regional schools, but not necessarily.
  3. Reach: Less than a 35% acceptance rate. These would be your top tier schools like the Ivies, Vanderbilt, UChicago, etc. These colleges are known for their academic rigor and most of the students were in the top 5%-10% of their class in high school. Your test scores and GPA are well below their average(not for all students though). These are colleges that are iffy about their acceptances which means a student with 30 EC’s, is valedictorian, has taken 10 AP classes, has over 200 volunteer hours and more intimidating factors may still not get in.


  • After you finish labeling the college list, see how many you can visit (if you’re a senior try to make September and early October your college visit months since most early action/early decision deadlines are in late October to November). Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can visit whenever they want :)
  • Eventually you’re going to keep eliminating colleges as you visit or research them throughout the weeks, months, or years. Also, visit any nearby information session colleges have, this includes college fairs and a group college info session. Sign up for the colleges mailing list to get more info as well!
  • For music students, the best music program isn’t always the best for you! Keep that in mind. Also, you should have your audition pieces finished by October/Early November of the year you’re applying to college. Live auditions are best but if you cannot do it, then most colleges will allow you to submit a video. PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR AUDITION REQUIREMENTS!


2. Class rigor

  • Do not take an AP class because you think it will look good on college apps, same with dual credit and IB! Take them because you’re interested in the subject or because you want the college credit(if you know what major you have in mind that is). Never take it just for the purpose of college apps!
  • Please study. If you think you don’t need to study then you’re wrong unless you’re one of those supernatural students who make 95’s and above without studying EVERY TIME!!
  • Communicate with your guidance counselor. If you have a crappy counselor then the only way to make it better is to keep in touch throughout the year. I have walked into my guidance counselor’s office at least 5-10 times a year to ask for programs like Girl’s State or ask about my class schedule, career path, and state scholarships.

3. BE ACTIVE!

  • I wish someone would’ve stressed the importance of EC’s and volunteer hours to me in the 9th grade. All of the match and reach colleges want this! Get involved in the school orchestra, choir, arts club, Spanish Honor Society, Environmental club, Mock Trial, volunteer at the soup kitchen ANYTHING (as long as you’re interested of course). Getting involved will also give you new friends and open up new opportunities for you. It also helps you discover what you like and don’t like.


4. Take the PSAT/ACT/SAT ASAP.

  • If you wait too late, you may not have time to improve your scores. Also, practicing helps A LOT. At least a month before your testing date print practice tests to complete. Start by doing the sections individually (with time constraints) and then on the 3rd practice test, complete them in one sitting with the time constraints. Have a parent/guardian or sibling/friend grade it. Let them tell you the exact question number(s) you missed and go back and fix it.  Figure out what you did wrong!
  • I have ACT practice tests in my google drive, if you want them, give me your email for the link!


5. Outside scholarships

  • These scholarships are not linked directly to a school, meaning in order to get the money you don’t have to attend *insert college name*.
  • All of the three websites above will show endless scholarships! Apply to as many as you can. No amount is too small!
  • Some big ones include Gates Millennium (for minorities), Coca-Cola Scholars, and Horatio Alger.
Tips for Narrowing Down Your College List

I’ve seen a lot of appblrs posting their tentative college application lists and I just wanted to offer some advice. From the few lists I’ve seen, many of you still have a huge variety of schools on your lists. So seeing as though many of you are trying to narrow those lists down/finalize them, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make lists of things you like and don’t like about each school. If the negatives outweigh the positives, you might want to reconsider applying.
  • Research each school as if you were writing a “why this school?” essay. If you can’t find enough information you like to write one of these essays, it probably isn’t the best fit for you.
  • Don’t apply to all 8 Ivies. I know Ivies are top schools known for academic excellence, but that doesn’t mean you need to apply to every single one. Research them all and then pick the one or two that best fit you if you really want to apply to some.
  • Don’t apply to schools just “to see if you’ll get in” if you want nothing more than to be able to say that you got into school X.
  • Consider location and campus culture which is often related to the geography of the school.  If you can’t see yourself being able to handle the weather extremes of a school, you might need to rethink things.
  • Consider the size of the school overall and the size of your individual classes. Make sure the schools on your list offer a learning environment in which you will be able to succeed.
  • If possible, talk to students who go to each of the schools to get a more personal vibe of the school. Even if you can’t physically go to the school to talk to them, you can try appblr. I’m sure someone out there will be able to help you out.
  • Look into their student clubs/activities and what students do for fun on Friday nights/weekends. You’ll be spending a lot of time there, so make sure you’re comfortable with all aspects of student life, not just academics.
  • Make sure you have safeties, and make sure they’re true safeties. A school with a 20-30% acceptance rate is not a safety for anyone.
  • Make sure you consider finances and have financial safeties if necessary.
  • Make sure you genuinely like every single school you apply to, especially your safeties. You never know where you’ll end up.
  • Have match schools. There will most likely be a huge gap between your reach schools and your safeties. Match schools will help fill that and give you more options later down the road.
  • If you find yourself stuck on one or two “dream schools” do apply to them, but also take a step back and figure out what specifically you like about them and look for other schools with those things. This will help you find more schools that are similar to the school(s) you love, and it might help eliminate schools that are lacking in too many areas.

I think that’s all I’ve got.  If you have any questions or need help with anything, feel free to ask!

ATTENTION SENIORS AND UP COMING JUNIORS (or anyone really)!!!
Within the past few days I’ve been doing a lot of college type things.
I want to give you all some links of reference and that you’re definitely going to need.
Firstly, colleges.startclass.com/
This website helped me look at colleges and decide which to apply to. On the left side you input data like where you want to go to college (region of the country wise), price range, your ACT/SAT score, what you want to major in, etc. It shows you all the school available/ compatible with that specific data and from there you can click and compare the schools you want. They show you price comparisons, student to faculty ratio, a bunch of really really helpful things.
Second, act.org/
for juniors this year this website if going to be a must. Since a lot of schools no longer provide the ACT and that’s the required test for acceptance for you’re going to have to sign up to take the test on your own time. The test itself isn’t all that expensive. There are  separate fees for rescheduling, late registration and changing your test location. But its worth it!! There can be fee waivers if you get free/ reduced lunch or for a few other reasons! Talk to your counselors. Also, act.org is going to be needed for when you need to send your score to a school you didn’t put down on your form. You’ll have to make an account and fill out a lot of questions and maybe pay a fee or too for the sending but please use these to your advantage,
Third, https://www.parchment.com/
this website will send your transcript to any college you want for free! You have to manage your profile and make sure you put in your high school data, your name, and that stuff and request to have them send your transcript to the college of your choosing. Its easy and fast and a lot simpler than going to the counseling office, requesting a transcript, having to mail it by hand to the college and wait the week or so for them to receive it. Use technology to your benefit!
Fourth, a lot of schools are now having online applications. Some big name universities/ schools still have application fees whether you do it online or not.
http://www.collegexpress.com/lists/list/colleges-with-no-undergraduate-application-fee/1681/
that website tells you all the colleges in the United States that offer a no application fee for undergraduate enrollment. Application fees are a pain and paying to be denied isn’t fun. Use this as you want, most application fees are around $30-50. So it’s not too bad but why spend money when you don’t have too. There can be fee waivers for application fees too guys! Don’t forget to look into that.
And lastly, http://www.fastweb.com/
this website shows you a surplus of scholarship opportunities! Its really useful when you’re worrying about paying for college and it have types of scholarships for a million different reasons. Take your chances and look for some. The easiest way to not get scholarships is to not apply for them!
Be wise when planning your future.