The Evolution of a Common App Essay: Tips and Excerpts

Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do choose a topic that you feel strongly about even if people say it’s cliche. A “unique” essay isn’t effective if it comes across as outlandish, unfocused, or worse—contrived; it’s the way you approach a subject that matters, not the subject itself. 
  • Do aim for sincerity over memorability. 
  • Don’t address risky (sensitive) subjects like mental illness or drug use. There’s a fine line between vulnerability and TMI; what strikes a chord with one reader might offend another. Think about how you can communicate similar ideas using different anecdotes. See below.

The Evolution of an Essay

I went through seven drafts from start to finish; this is a shortened (and slightly exaggerated) version of my thought process.  

What’s the most integral part of your identity? 

My social anxiety. 


My struggle with it has shaped me more than anything. It’s the reason why I grew apart from my grandparents and other relatives.

Okay, too risky. What’s an event you keep revisiting in your mind?

That time when I got caught in a riptide.

Why is it significant? Jot down a few key words/ideas.

Helplessness. Fear. Saving myself. Writing. This became:

Surrounded by yet estranged from humanity, so close to shore yet so far away, I began to despair. The sharp pulse of my fear ebbed into resignation; my kicking and flailing slowed. But almost as soon as I stopped struggling, it dawned on me: all I had to do was tread. From this experience arose my poem “Fujian.” This piece is a memorial of the boundless joy I had felt upon reaching land, an elegy for the arrogant girl who had thought that she was greater than the sea. But it is also a lesson for days to come. Don’t waste energy fighting life’s many storms. Weather them out.

I went through several drafts and changed the topic several times, but noticed a recurring focus on the third idea—overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle by ceasing to struggle. In my first draft, I was only able to swim back to shore after I stopped resisting the tide; in my final draft, I was only able to speak up after setting aside my fear of ridicule (really a result of my social anxiety, but I framed it as false pride):

I think about how I’ve exchanged no more than a few words with my grandfather during the entire trip, fearing that he would rue the foreign lilt of my Mandarin. But silence is too high a price to pay. My aloofness has shielded me not from hurt but from connection; it is the weakest defense, mere child’s armor in a grown-up world. And so I clear my throat, my Mandarin an old tune whose lyrics I am only just recalling, and begin to speak.

i’m going into my junior year of high school, the time when many students are getting ready to apply for college. many of my friends and peers have been concerned about what, exactly, they should be doing to prepare this year, and when. so, we held a college information session. this may be geared towards my specific area/region, but hopefully everyone can take something out of this. here are some tips that we learned:


questions to ask:

  1. what is your freshman retention rate?
  2. what is the percentage of students that graduate in 4 years? (new statistic: ¾ of students don’t; the average student takes 5 ½ years to graduate)

make sure there is written documentation of your visit

when reviewing applications, colleges note “touch points”– these include things like taking an official tour, sending in those cards you get in the mail, or something as easy as emailing one of their admissions counselors with a simple question. they’ll keep your information, and it may give you an advantage over other students because you showed you’re seriously interested in their school. so, even if you’re taking an informal campus tour, make sure to stop in the admissions office and fill out one of those cards with your information. it’ll be added into their system as a touch point– and you’re already one step ahead!


some things to remember:

  • the SAT and ACT are, for the most part, equally accepted by colleges.
  • certain schools may require an SAT subject test. make sure to check out programs you’re interested in so that you can prepare all of its requirements.
  • the SAT is a test of aptitude, while the ACT is more knowledge-based and straightforward. 
  • if you’re bright and a good test taker but maybe you don’t get the best grades, the SAT may be more fit for you.
  • if you’re more studious and focused on grades and retaining information you’ve learned in class, the ACT may be a better match. 
  • a guidance counselor recommends: take both tests once, and whichever you feel you performed better on, take it again. 
  • many colleges like to see growth in scores because it shows you’re really working towards something. this may change depending on the selectivity of the school, but consider this before only sending your best score. 
  • if you know what colleges you’re interested in, check and see what they prefer/require before taking the tests. most likely, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money in the long run.


here’s a timeline of what was recommended for your junior year


  • take the PSAT again (this is the year that you can qualify for NMSQT). i’m not sure if this applies everywhere but i know where i live, this is a requirement.
  • if your school uses Naviance, make sure you have your login information. you should be using the tools it provides to research colleges and find out more about jobs you may be suited for.


  • take the ACT or SAT. if you’ve already taken the SAT, i suggest taking the ACT before doing the SAT again. 
  • this is around the time you should start visiting colleges if you haven’t already. if you can’t go to schools, look for information sessions and college fairs near you. if you’re on a college’s email list, they’ve likely sent you dates that they offer tours or perhaps are even hosting information sessions closer to you.


  • start asking for letters of recommendation!! many teachers give letters on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get ahead. usually you want to have 2-4 of these. think about programs and schools you may apply for, and think about what subject teachers may be most helpful in your application. also, check schools’ websites and see what they recommend/require. outside letters are also okay, if they’re from someone who knows you and your work ethic well. 
  • consider taking the SAT or ACT again. 
  • schedule your senior year. it’s no longer a time to slack off; colleges now look at your grades as late as third marking period. continue to challenge yourself, but also take electives that interest you to get a better idea of what careers you may want to pursue.
  • get the Common App essays from your guidance counselor. you should at least think about these over the summer to get an idea of what you’ll say in your application essays.


  • this is when the Common App is available for that year. many, but not all schools, use this. do your own research to decide if it’s a necessity for you.


  • very few students partake in college interviews anymore. requesting and interview may set you apart from other students (touch point!), but it is definitely not required or even recommended by the vast majority of schools.
  • if you know you will be going to grad school or a higher ed program, think about where you want to concentrate your money. a cheaper but respected undergraduate school may be a great idea to save money for a great graduate school. (you probably don’t care where your doctor went for their undergrad, but where’d they go to med school?)
  • check to see what courses certain colleges recommend you take in high school. this may be a good way to plan the rest of your high school schedule, and also gauge whether or not you can achieve a college’s expectations.
Writing the Common App Essay: Part 3

See part 1part 2, and part 4!

Once you have draft of an essay that you like, it’s time for the hard part: editing and revising. This is the part of the process where you can completely transform your essay, and it’s so important to do thoroughly.

Here are my essay editing tips:

  • Your essay should tell a story. It’s very difficult to write an interesting, engaging essay without a narrative arc of some kind. The prompts lend themselves to this kind of writing, so see what kind of story you can tell! 
  • Make sure your essay is about you. If you’re writing on prompt #4, for example, don’t write about global warming and the threat it poses to society. Instead, write about your passion for protecting the environment and the personal journey you’ve made (or want to make) to help save the world.
  • Conceal the prompt. If you’re answering prompt #2, you should avoid saying things like “I learned from my failure” or “my earlier failure helped me achieve success”. Admissions officers will read thousands of essays like this. Answer the prompt subtly; show, don’t tell.
  • Make a list of the personal qualities you want your essay to convey. Characteristics like resilience or open-mindedness won’t come across in other areas of your application, so make your best qualities known through your writing. Ask friends or family about your distinctive qualities if you’re not sure—sometimes they know you better than you do.
  • Rhetorical devices, particularly imagery and metaphor, are your friends. Look for opportunities to use them in subtle and interesting ways.
  • Make sure your own voice comes through. I found that the best way to do this is to have other people read your essay. Parents, siblings, friends, and teachers who know you well should be able to read your essay and say “yes, this sounds like you”.
  • People will have suggestions when they read your essay. Take everything with a grain of salt; this is your essay, and you don’t have to make every recommended change if you don’t want to.
  • Remember, this isn’t a formal, academic essay. You can (and should) write in the first person, use contractions, and employ everyday diction. You don’t have to use a thesaurus, have a thesis statement, or cite your sources.
  • If you do absolutely nothing else, make sure that your last sentence packs a punch. Go out with a bang and send a strong message!
  • You may end up rewriting most of your essay, and that’s okay. I kept the first two paragraphs of my first draft intact, and completely changed the rest of my essay. If you think you can tell a better, more personal, and more engaging story, by all means go for it. You’ll be much happier with your result!

Good luck, and happy editing :)

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a crucial part of your application process. It allows the admissions committee to get to know the “real you” rather than the “paper you”. It is during this part of the application that you need to show what you have not shown in the rest of your application. 

A lot of people make some awful mistakes when writing a personal statement. Things you should keep in mind: 

  • Don’t Sound Arrogant: Yes, this is a personal statement. You are talking about yourself and being confident is a great thing to do. However there is a very thin line between sounding confident and cocky. A lot of the times, that line is defined by the choice of words or syntax you use. There is a difference between “I honestly believe I can be a great addition to your Class of 2017” and “Your college will be lucky to have me”. Same idea, one sounds like a nice person, the there one sounds like a douche. 
  • Show, Don’t Tell: A lot of the times people want to elaborate on some skills that they have not explained throughly in the rest of their application. Maybe, you just mentioned that you took art classes, but the structure of the application did not allow you to explain how has that helped you develop as a person. The personal statement is the perfect place to do that. However, if you do this, please show, don’t tell. I do not mean paste a picture in the middle of your essay (the CA will not allow you to anyway), but what I mean is that you should make the reader be able to picture it on its head. “The softness of clay on my hands made feel free to escape reality and empowered me to create with my own hands my own definition of perfection.” - is very different from - “I am a very amazing artist. I do awesome things with clay that makes me feel free.”  One is more attractive and relatable. The other… eh… not so much. 

  • Stick to the prompt: That should not even be said, but it is fairly easy to be drifted away from the original prompt. You do not want to talk about how awesome your vacation in Lake Titicaca was, if the prompt is asking you for your best quality. Personally I would suggest, looking over the prompts in advance. For the Common App, the prompts are already available. After that, brainstorm some ideas of how you can back each prompt up. The one prompt that you can back up with the most meaningful experiences should be your best bet. 
  • Use your own experiences: That should be obvious. Remember, YOU are applying to college, not your friend’s neighbor’s cousin who knows an albino, vegan, south-east Asian doctor. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF. Exaggerating your stories is just as bad as making them up or using someone else’s. 
  • Write, Write, Write!!!: The Common App’s guidelines for college essays say that your personal statement should be between 250-650 words. DO NOT just write 250 words. This essay is your chance to shine! It is your time to show what the paper version of you lacks of. PLEASE write as much as possible, and make every word count. People may be tempted to write fluff in between their essays. Guys, this is not your English class. You are not allowed to do that with this essay.
  • Have people read it: I know you all are fantastic people and great writers. But please do not wing an essay. Have your English teacher read it. Have your best friend read it. Have your parents read it. Have a stranger read it. Have people read your essay. I am not talking about only looking for grammar and spelling errors. As much as those are important, you also want your personal essay to sound like you. Who else could help you with that, than the people who are close to you? 

This are a few advices I can give. If you have any question, please feel free to send me a message. I will respond as soon as possible. 

Special thanks to my friend Kiana who helped me out coming up with some of these advices. 

Keep working hard, and don’t give up. That is the only way you can get where you want to be. 

College Apps Gothic

The emails begin in sophomore year. The mailings follow shortly after. You do not know when the sense of creeping dread began. Maybe it has always been there.

The void of despair opens August 1st.

They track demonstrated interest. They track undemonstrated interest. They are always watching. When you open their email, the rustling in your walls gets louder, closer. They are here.

The brochure tells you that this college requires the SAT or ACT, two SAT subject tests, and the trial of darkness. Your GPA dictates the number of weapons you are allowed to bring with you. They only tell you the survival rate is better than Harvard’s.

You wake up one morning to a pile of college mail stacked neatly outside your door. You have not given your address to any college. How do they know where you sleep? How do they–

You may apply to this university under single choice early action, binding. The form smells like sulfur and your signature is red, too red. They do not tell you what you are bound to.

On your campus visit, you look around at the other visiting students. They stare back with lifeless eyes, deep shadows beneath their dead gazes. You see the same when you look into a mirror. You have not slept through the night for four years.

The tour guide’s smile is too wide, her teeth too sharp. You swear you hear her laugh grating an octave too low as she goes over the meal plans. She avoids the sun and when the light hits her eyes just right, you can see a glint of yellow.

Numbers haunt your dreams until you shiver awake, visions of SAT bubbles swimming before you. You do not know why you are required to fill them in with blood, or what machine they are sacrificed to.

No one you know has been accepted as an engineering major. No one, in fact, has ever been accepted as an engineering major. Still, thousands apply every year and are consumed by the void.

Reporting activities can help a college better understand your life outside of the classroom. Your activities may include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, arcane worship of the underworld,  fulfillment of pacts with elder gods, eternal screaming, and other pursuits. Do you have any activities that you wish to report?

You are no longer a name, only an AP number. The test proctor warns you that without these eight digits, you cannot access the rest of your existence.

The multiple choice answers are all option D.

The common app now has a supplemental option in which you may submit your soul. Applicants are reminded that they may select up to three colleges under this action, only one of which may be early decision.

Please describe your life to date, complete with documentation. You have 650 words.

On the College Essay

Well, first some life updates:

  • I own a chocolate fountain. I got it at my grad party because my dad and I were setting up for it and we found it in our attic. I’ve actually owned it for a while now but I realized I never put it on my blog and I felt like it should be here.
  • Also I’m working on that database at work (and trust me, it’s keeping me pretty busy) and this week I was so mad at the code I anger quacked at it the other day. Then MIT Student Life retweeted it: 
  • So if the combination of my angry quacking and chocolate fountain doesn’t get me a date first semester, I’m going to be disappointed.
  • Also Nate Ruess’s new album is kind of my life right now and I think it’s a work of art and everyone is sick of listening to me talk about it and my boss is also tired of it and my remixes I’ve been making during my lunch breaks and it sounds amazing in my computer and makes me want to film so many things and I should be doing physics and…I’m even listening to it right now. ART!!!

But this entry actually isn’t about my quacking or chocolate fountains! It’s about the college essay!

Keep reading

10 Things You Should Know About a School Before Applying

1. It’s official name and how it’s spelled.

You don’t want to mess that up on rec envelopes or on your supplement essay. For example, it’s William & Mary, not William and Mary.
And yes, there’s a difference. Don’t be that kid who spells Wesleyan Weslyan.

2. How many students attend?

What are you getting into? Is this a massive metropolis, or a tiny village smaller than your high school? This is important, so think about it.

3. What are its colors, and what is its mascot?

Also if it matters to you, what sports are big?
You’re going to be wearing a lot of their colors, so make sure you know those little details as well as the bigger stats.


4. What are the core requirements like?


Keep reading

Writing the Common App Essay: Part 2

See part 1, part 3, and part 4!

This addresses prompt #4 of the 2014-2015 cycle: “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?”

This is the first draft of my common app essay. After doing a couple quick writes about things I’m passionate about, I decided to write about a big passion of mine: reading. I noticed that I could frame this interest with an essay about my reading chair, which conveniently addressed one of my prompt options. I finished this iteration of my essay in June of 2014, right after I finished my junior year.

Whenever I have a free moment to myself, I can usually be found in a leather armchair in the far corner of the sunroom. It’s not particularly attractive or comfortable; it’s grown lumpy with age and the dull brown material is marred with scratches and tears. To make matters worse, it’s topped with a heinously ugly throw pillow, and my family dismisses it for more appealing seating alternatives. Most people look at that lump of leather and see a really ugly chair. To me, though, it is a place of power and imagination.

Back when the chair was young and matched the sunroom’s color scheme, it was my mother’s reading spot. According to familial legend, I would sit on the floor as a toddler and just watch her read for hours on end. Finally, she sat me on her lap and taught me how to decode the strange black markings on the paper. As my skills improved and my passion for words grew, I slowly usurped her throne and claimed the chair as my own—and then I discovered the magic.

When I was about 5 years old, the chair transformed into a magic tree house. I could pick up a book and wish to go to the wonderful places it described, and it would take me there as my eyes danced across the pages. Without ever leaving the sunroom, I would be transported to ancient Egypt or to imperial Japan. And when I closed the cover after half an hour or so, it would spin me back to reality. That chair saved me when I was angry or frustrated or sad. All I had to do was sit down and crack open a book, and the magic chair would let me forget my troubles for a while.

A few months later, I came into the sunroom to find the chair transformed into the Hogwarts Express. The train whisked me away to the wizarding world, and the journey changed my life completely. Throughout my years with Harry, I learned about the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit. I began to accept myself as an extraordinary person, and I found that I was no longer angry or frustrated or sad. I had already known about the magic of words, but these seven books showed me the power within myself—a power that I no longer try to deny.

As I grew up, the chair continued to demonstrate its magic. It became a toy automobile and drove me through the Kingdom of Wisdom, and led me on the quest to discover that knowledge truly is power. The chair came to life when I first opened The Golden Compass, and I rode on the back of the panzerbjørn on a quest to discover my own freedom. That ugly brown armchair has led me through hundreds of stories, and it transforms into something new for each one. That chair has been spaceships, boats, broomsticks, and racecars. The journey can be harrowing at times; the chair is stained with memories of tears and meltdowns. But the chair has also given me joy and love and belonging, and I could not be more grateful.

I’ve always known that Hogwarts doesn’t exist in this world, and if there is a magic tree house I haven’t discovered it yet. Nonetheless, I know that magic is real; my ugly leather armchair has proven that to me. There is magic all around us: love, friendship, music, art. I see it everywhere now, and I no longer need the chair to show me that life is miraculous. Yet the written word is still a very special kind of magic, one that cannot be duplicated without the help of my hideous chair. I sit and read in my leather armchair every day, and it never fails to leave me enchanted.

hello appblr world!! I recently graduated high school (c/o 2015), and I will be attending Duke University in the fall, hoping to pursue a double major in English and Political Science with a minor in either Psychology or Neuroscience :’) 

applying to colleges was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, so I really want to help out anyone who is now currently feeling those tidal waves of anxiety and panic. my intention is to help and hopefully alleviate any nerves about applying to college (in America)

the summer before my senior year, every time I read the word ‘college’, my heart rate spiked & I started internally freaking out. for me, the whole process was super overwhelming, and my distaste for the education system (specifically, the american education system) quadrupled. I remember feeling incredibly confused and alone because I didn’t know where to start, so here is a lil guide thingy!!! 


  • make sure and finish all your summer assignments – I know that college applications are a strong focus, but get what you’re supposed to do out of the way first + you will feel less overwhelmed and more productive
  • start making a list of colleges that you want to apply for – my best suggestion is to categorize them into safety schools, match schools, and reach schools
    • ref: generally people look at a school’s admitted profile (on the school website) and compare stats, which means gpa, rank, test scores, etc. if you can, it’s also helpful to read into their supplementary essay prompts and examples to give you a general idea of what a college is looking for (ex. UChicago is notoriously known for their quirky supplementary essay prompts; famous past prompts include: Find X, Where’s Waldo?, Why are you here?, What’s so odd about odd numbers?) 
  • do lots of research on schools you’re interested in – ok now I know that reading these long paragraphs on school websites can get really tiring, so try watching some youtube videos or looking the school up on reddit, and be sure to talk to current students to get a first-hand account
    • look at location, diversity, the programs offered in relation to what you’re interested in, size, public vs private institutions, sports, social scene, political affiliations, financial aid offered, study abroad, etc)
  • try and figure out a general field of what you’re interested in – you do NOT need to know what you want to major in, but when you’re applying for colleges, you will most likely need to select an intended major; if not, you will apply as undeclared, which has its advantages and disadvantages!! but even with an intended major, most colleges don’t make you officially select a major until sophomore, sometimes even junior year, so it is okay to not know what you wanna do when you’re 16/17/18!!! but explore and reflect and try and figure out a general field of what you’re interested in. do NOT use your grades as a sole factor in deciding; if you are good at math and have really high grades, that does not necessarily mean that you should be a math major - pursue your passions!! if you know that you like writing and reading, then consider a major in english or literature. if you think you’d like to work with computer software, then consider a major in computer science or computer engineering. ALSO know that there are so many potential majors + even the option to create your own at some universities!! and also know that many people change majors, and that is totally ok :) 
  • in august, common app will open, which is what many colleges use for the application process. certain schools will have specific websites themselves (i.e. MIT, University of California schools, etc) – if you make an account BEFORE august, it will be deleted by then, so be careful!! now, when you make ur account, you can add schools and you can look at their supplements and stuff. be sure and note deadlines!! 


  • keep up with your school work – senioritis is REAL AND ALIVE, my friends. you will think it’s really bad first semester, but then it just explodes into a frenzy of apathy and indifference second semester + you basically don’t care about anything; this is normal, but still try and focus. colleges can rescind their acceptances, altho it’s not likely unless you suddenly fail everything, but overall, it’s just important to still try
  • keep good relations with your teachers (both current teachers and past teachers) & decide on which to ask for a rec – for many schools, they will require at least one teacher recommendation, so you must decide between which teachers you wanna ask. I would advise picking the teachers you’ve always had good relations with, and in a subject where you’re really passionate about learning the material. when asking, be respectful of deadlines (aka don’t ask them to write you a rec two days before the deadline. they are people too), and be sure and say thank you. if you can, make them a card or make/buy them a little gift; I promise you, they’ll appreciate it!! 
    • if the school you’re applying to requires multiple teacher recs: many people advise asking teachers of different subjects to emphasize your well-roundedness – you can do that or you can ask teachers of one subject that you’re really interested in; weigh your options and politely ask. asking teachers can be really scary sometimes, especially if you’re very shy, but they’re there to help you and it’ll all work out :)
  • write a common app essay (if applicable) – common app has 4 prompts that you can choose from, and then you’ll submit that to all the colleges ur applying to thru common app. this is very important. if you’re not a good writer, do not fret!! most of the time, the subject of these essays are very personal. a lot of people write about some trying time in their lives, but plenty of other people write creatively about something small, but important. remember that essays are a way for admission directors to get to know the real you :’) that sounds super cliche, but keep in mind that you are more than ur gpa and ur sat/act score. prove that to them by writing about something you care about
    • if you are ok with it (and it’s totally ok to not be ok with it), ask someone you trust to read over it and edit it. a lot of people ask their language arts teachers just bc they’ll help with grammar and structure, but asking other trusted adults and peers will be helpful too!! keep in mind the potential of bias from parents + friends though 
    • you will most likely write your common app essay multiple times. you will have lots of drafts & it can be really stressful, but patience. you will be so happy when you finally finish 
  • finalize your college list and start writing supplementary essays – many colleges will have supplementary parts to the application on top of common app. this can range from totally separate essays to lil short-answer questions, so be prepared and give yourself plenty of time to write!! just as with your common app essay, getting feedback can be super helpful
    • also remember that many colleges accept arts supplements (this range depends on the college, but I’ve seen colleges accept writing, dance, music, visual art, etc) & these fall under a different deadline, usually. if you want to submit in an art supplement, you may have to submit in your essays and everything earlier 
    • OH ALSO some colleges will have an early decision or early application deadline – this is basically an earlier deadline for ur app in exchange for an earlier decision. be careful on the difference between EA and ED!!! ED is BINDING, which means that if you get in, you have to go (you can get out of it for financial reasons tho), and EA is NONBINDING, which means that even if you get in, you can decide to go to another school
  • submit in your transcript and any test scores you need – different schools have different policies, but most fall under either the SAT + SAT 2 scores OR ACT + writing scores; I would suggest contacting the counseling office asap, but be super nice!! counselors are there to help you through this process, but it can be really overwhelming for them too
    • pay close attention to whether or not ur college requires a counseling rec or not
  • double check everything for small details – some colleges accept peer recs, but sometimes they don’t publicize that detail very much so just be observant! same with priority deadlines for interviews; you may have to submit in your app earlier if you want priority for an interview
  • accept ur interview opportunities – meet with an alumni or go on campus if you can and give an interview!! they’re really helpful sometimes bc it provides the school with a look into who you are as a person, not just as a student. also, from my experience, the alumni are super nice and really interested + it’s nice to just talk and nerd out about the school you like :’) 
  • submit ur apps (hehehe of course!) 
  • apply for scholarships – this is something that I wish I had taken more seriously, but really, college is expensive and scholarships can make all the difference. talk to your counselors if you don’t know where to start & literally just google for them!! be careful you are eligible for the ones you’re interested in and make sure you submit everything in by the deadline too 


  • distract yourself like crazy – the wait is horrible and the anticipation is killer, if you’re anything like me at least. hang out with your friends and just enjoy your senior year!! this is the last of high school & i promise you that as much as you may hate it (if you do hate it), you will feel bittersweet by the end of the year. so make memories and make the best out of the time you have left in high school 
  • check your email – colleges oftentimes send you emails if they need you to send them anything more, or they’ll update you about things. they’ll usually also email you with where you need to go to check your decision
  • don’t let the senioritis take over ur soul 


  • acceptances – YAY CONGRATULATIONS!!! be proud of yourself and know that you deserve it 100000%, wholeheartedly. they did not make a mistake, and you ARE that amazing. celebrate your accomplishment, but also be humble. it’s likely that you have a friend that either got waitlisted or denied, so be careful what you say 
  • rejections – i’m sorry, my dear!! but you are not meant to be at that school, and that is okay. even if it is your dream school. this does not reflect ur self-worth & this def does not mean that you aren’t good enough. this simply means you aren’t a good fit for the school!! most people have to deal with rejections, so take some time for yourself. eat some comfort food and watch some tv. read a book if that relaxes you. take a bath with lots of bubbles. do whatever is necessary to cleanse yourself of any negative thoughts you may have, and then realize that you can accomplish SO much wherever you end up!! UR A BRILLIANT SHINING STAR & I HAVE FAITH IN YOU :’)
  • waitlisted – being waitlisted (or deferred during EA/ED, which basically pushed you back to the regular decision time) sucks so much bc you just want to know; take a deep breath and consider all your options. make backup plans. if you’re really interested in the school, email them and tell them that!! make sure if you want to be on the waitlist, that you notify them of that (usually via mail or online somehow). if you don’t wanna be on the waitlist, make sure you take yourself off so you give everyone else a better chance :) 
  • weigh your options through careful, careful consideration – there are so many factors that may come into play when finally deciding on which college to go to
    • money is usually a huge factor, and sometimes you won’t be able to go to a great school even though you got in bc it’s too expensive. but do not be sad about this. give yourself time to feel sad, but don’t let it dictate your life!! you need to stay logical and rational. think long-term. sit down with your guardians and discuss the option of taking out loans and so forth. if you’re planning on pursuing grad school afterwards, you need to keep that in the picture as well 
    • talk to current-students and compare important things – if you’re really big on community service, ask the current students at different schools how it is there. this applies for everything!! first-hand accounts are incredibly helpful. you can also consider emailing professors of departments you’re interested in for a more professional and academic perspective 
    • look into their programs and try and avoid putting too much emphasis on rankings - be specific and read up on the department that you’re interested and compare them with different schools. don’t blindly let an overall ranking mislead you!! (i.e. Duke is ranked higher overall than Georgia Tech, but Georgia Tech is ranked MUCH higher in many of its engineering programs) 
    • talk to people – talk to your parents. talk to your counselors, your teachers, your peers. basically everyone is talking about college your senior year, so take advantage of it. talk with other people and get second, third, fourth, fifth opinions. expand your mind and consider everything!! 

senior year is this giant conglomeration of sweat and tears and happiness and anger and jealous and confusion, so do not worry if you are feeling overwhelmed!! it is normal, and i promise that everyone has felt scared about the future at some point. but with that, be confident in yourself. you’re absolutely lovely + you will go far in life!! 

ok 1) I apologize for how absurdly long this post is and 2) I am here to help if ANYONE has ANY questions about anything!! literally I would love giving advice, so feel free to msg me anytime (my main account is @naiveety though, so whichever works) 

ALSO if anyone is interested in Duke, please please please come to me & I will help!!!