common-application

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. 

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 :)

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:

ON COLLEGE VISITS

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!

TESTING

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.

SO, WHEN SHOULD I BE DOING ALL OF THIS?

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

October: 

  • 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.

November/December

  • 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.

April/May/June

  • 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.

August

  • 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.

MISC. TIPS

  • 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?)
  • MAKE SURE YOU’RE MEETING YOUR SCHOOL’S GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS.
  • 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.
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What Is the Common App?

It used to be that, for the most part, each university had a separate application. Now there’s something called the Common App, which allows you to fill in your basic information, upload your Activities List and main personal statement, and send everything to a variety of schools with the click of a button, saving you the trouble or re-entering your information again and again. It makes things a lot easier. It’s also made it easier for more students to apply to more schools, which is why most universities have had to become more selective. With so many students with similar academic profiles applying to the same schools each year, one great way to stand out from the crowd is through the supplemental essays that many colleges require, and which are available through the Common App.
Why I love the Common App Topics

K I was going through my inbox today (checking college questions and such) when it occurred to me that lo and behold I am late to the party in finding out that they have new Common App essay prompts

So I know this is quite belated but I need a moment of your time to fangirl about the potential of these new questions and hopefully in my musings, you’ll be inspired to think about your own essays in a new light. 

Who knows– maybe you’ll figure out a new way to phrase/revise something or be inspired to write another essay for a specific school or realize your essay is even more awesome than you thought it was before 

or maybe you’ll remember that you’re following a girl who is a complete nerd and fails at coolness but makes up for it in geekery 

1) Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

ok the prompt is a little condescending in it’s phrasing, that’s certainly clear. But I think this takes some of the pressure off of the traditional “essay of your choice” topic to allow students to label clearly as one of the most pivotal details that makes them who they are. You know how any good movie is comprised of a monumental moment or change in a protagonists life? 

We watch television to see the day-to-day lives of characters and to become engrossed in their every aspect of them but we watch movies to see the development and self-realization of a character one of the highest/lowest peaks of their lives? 

So picture this–you are narrating the premise of the movie of your life:

what is your movie about?

paint it, analyze it, make your reader become so attached that they want to keep reading on (or at least they’ll remember you months down the line when it matters the most)

2) Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

We can’t all be winners all the time. If we never failed at anything, we would never learn how to pick ourselves back up, adjust to the rising tide, and grow from it. The most interesting and well known people in the world were born of thousands of failures. 

I won’t get too much into it but that actor whose pictures flood your dashboard even as I write (won’t name anyone *cough*jensen*cough*) fails all the time but they’re making a name for themselves and doing great right? 

Right 

You’re exemplifying that you have some decent (albeit it probably sucked at the time) life experience and also showing that you’re a good sport who understands that the world is a series of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey events that all connect with each other and that one failure can lead to a world of new horizons which is what adults want to hear 

seriously they do, apparently employers want people who are team workers and adults tend to be impressed if you can bite the bullet and make the best of a situation w/o making a big deal of it all 

it shows you have humility, are mature enough to undertake the challenge of college, you know how to think critically (all of these prompts exemplify critical thinking skills if you write them well, which is part of the point of you writing them along with making sure you know how to write decently) 

so be interesting, have a good sense of humor and learn how to brush off mistakes and short comings while being able to move on afterwards 

people will like you more in the long run for it. show them why they should already think more of you now

3) Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?


Congrats. If you’re reading this you are most likely moving forward into the realm of higher education (or are actively interested in becoming involved in it). As a full fledged college student, you will one day have the skills and opinions to challenge societal norms and do so eloquently. 

I don’t like how this one is worded either. 

You are totally capable human beings who know what you want in life. Maybe you don’t know what official job title you would like and how your resume will be formatted in five years, but those are semantics that you really can overlook for the time being. 

In this moment, you should know who you are, what you think is essential to a good life, a stable society, a better system of organizing thought and innovation and… well you get the idea. 

After 15+ years of being taught by your instructors what it meant, what it means and what it will mean someday (potentially) to be human, you’ve cultivated your own vision of the world.

You haven’t been sitting there like a lump on a log and obviously not everyone is going to agree with you all the time. Hell, some of them may even insult your intelligence or your ideals. 

If your story of standing by your integrity involves some more heated and discordant conversing than might be appropriate, then the last question on this prompt is giving you a choice: fight or flight. 

Flee and tell explain to colleges that maybe you were immature at the time or rash in your decision to speak up. Prove that you can conduct yourself professionally and will ultimately contribute to their vibrant academic discussions throughout campus. 

OR 

Fight and stand firm by your previous decision to let no one sway your logic and beliefs. WARNING: phrase this respectfully so as not to offend or antagonize any readers who may not agree with your point of view (& remember that as with life in general, you’re not going to please everyone so say what you mean, mean what you say and for god’s sake SAY IT WELL). But this option advocates for your roll as a rebel-rouser who will shake up the culture of their campus but for the better because you are learning why things are done the way they are but changing them because the system doesn’t work to the benefit of others 

Either way you take this part of the question will be fantastic for showing off your “moral fiber" 

which is a super weird term but I tend to find that most well adjusted and kick-ass independent people know not to just sit idle on the side lines when their environment is toxic to them and/or other 

4) 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 has a ton of potential for really exposing who applicants are at their roots. most of the time people go through life keeping up facades for different people or in different circumstances and to discuss where and how a person is able to be themselves the most and be at their most vulnerable is not only poetic, it’s beautiful in its inherent nuances 

think of any fictional character you have ever loved from a fandom 

you didn’t fall in love with them because you saw them grinding their foes to a pulp while swinging their mighty battle ax 

(well maybe you did but it had a lot more to do with their majesty and less to do with the blood stains adorning their suit) i don’t even know what fandom i’m referring to now, maybe all of them at once?  

anyway you fell in love with the moments when they were alone or with the people that brought out the best in them. the people that kept them going until the end of the day in real life or in spirit with their memory. 

they stopped being powerful or clever or even atrocious and emotionally constipated and became relatable, justified and strong in their shortcomings and ideologies

You are the protagonist, this is your fandom, where do we fall in love with you and why is that?

5) Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

this one gives you an opportunity to narrate your own coming of age story as you perceive it which shows off your analytic and storytelling skills in addition to giving you more creative license with your narrative 

now I know this is the third (maybe forth?) time I’ve discussed writing your own life’s story 

which sounds pretty freaky and surreal and maybe i’m over simplifying it in a pitchy writing style that makes it sound easier than it really is

I mean you’re 18 years old, possibly younger, but assuming that you plan on dying of old age you have a long ways to go before you could write a lengthy memoir with meryl streep or morgan freeman narrating the film adaptation (patrick stewart could do it for you at any age just b/c he’s awesome) 

point being that I get it, the world has always told you that your life really begins when the "real world” does and after hearing that mantra for so long, you’ve kind of come to believe it 

and maybe if you’ve never been involved in a club or had friends, enemies, frenemies, hopes, aspirations and/or fears then maybe you could argue that you have nothing worth saying

but i assure you that if you’ve ever dreamed (more metaphorically but literally also applies too) then you’ve had life experience to base it off of 

growing up doesn’t happen instantly or over night or even in a detectable amount of time 

sometimes you wake up months later and realize that the way you think and choose has shifted and maybe it’s for the better (or worse)

but this change of state in mind is altered by many things. Maybe for the sake of time you need to focus in on one (or a few) events, but everyone has a story to tell. 

Don’t be overly dramatic about it, but there’s a lot of leeway to explore and experiment with your written voice in this topic.

OK it’s 1:30 and I probably sounded as insane as Ashton Kutcher at the TCAs (I’m just exhausted and befuddled by italian homework, I swear) but that’s all I have for you

drop me any and all questions in my inbox and yes, same as last year I am available for essay writing help and revising  

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What Is the Common App?

It used to be that, for the most part, each university had a separate application. Now there’s something called the Common App, which allows you to fill in your basic information, upload your Activities List and main personal statement, and send everything to a variety of schools with the click of a button, saving you the trouble or re-entering your information again and again. It makes things a lot easier. It’s also made it easier for more students to apply to more schools, which is why most universities have had to become more selective. With so many students with similar academic profiles applying to the same schools each year, one great way to stand out from the crowd is through the supplemental essays that many colleges require, and which are available through the Common App. 

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

i made a college spreadsheet! my junior year of high school ends next week, which means it’s now college crunchtime- yikes! for anyone in the same boat as me, i would highly recommend making some sort of spreadsheet or chart to organize your thoughts. here’s how i laid mine out:

(first, i wanted to mention that this was totally inspired by @thestudyaesthetic‘s chart- here’s a link to her’s!)

so i put the name of the college across the top, then information about each one below in a column. the info i included was:

  • whether or not i planned on applying
  • where the school was
  • majors i’m interested in
  • total size
  • undergrad size
  • acceptance rate
  • cost of attendance
  • average financial aid package
  • average act score
  • average unweighted gpa
  • ratio of students to professors
  • do they offer early action or decision? if so, what’s the deadline?
  • regular application deadline
  • whether they offer credit for ap courses
  • what’s their application format? through the common app?
  • application fee?
  • my impression of the campus (if visited)
  • have i visited?
  • their us news and world report ranking
  • deadline for test scores
  • distance from my home
  • do they have club sports? (i plan on playing club tennis)
  • other notes
Are you freaking out about college essays?

You need an editor. 

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“My essay recieved the extra edge to stand out more! Your suggestions and questions were excellent and helpful, love your style!” -Jenny P, graduate school applicant

“What I love about the feedback she gives is her ability to call out the details I hadn’t noticed in my writing, both aspects she appreciates, and aspects that jar her – and then she tells me why. She’s very good at holding up the mirror on my writing, and showing me the areas I subconsciously was unhappy with, but couldn’t articulate why.” -Six, creative writer (tumblr: sixappleseeds)

Writing the Common App Essay: Part 4

See part 1, part 2, and part 3!

This is the final draft of my common app essay, which I submitted to most of my schools last fall! Some careful editing of my first draft (read it here) transformed my essay from a story about books to a story about me. I’m really happy with the way it turned out and the results that it got me! I think I finalized this essay around September of last year.

Obviously, please don’t copy any of my writing. I worked really hard on this essay, and more importantly, it’s about me and it’s in my voice. You can write an amazing, original essay too :)

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?”

Whenever I have a free moment to myself, I can usually be found in a leather armchair in the corner of the sunroom. The seat isn’t particularly attractive; it has grown lumpy with age and the dull brown material is marred with scratches and tears. To make matters worse, it’s topped with a hideous 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, as a toddler I was happy to just sit on the floor and watch her read. Finally, she sat me on her lap and taught me how to decode the strange black markings on the paper. As my skill improved and my passion for words grew, I slowly usurped her throne and claimed the chair as my own—and then I discovered its magic.

I quickly realized that those cardboard covers held spectacular worlds between them. Within those pages there were people to meet, strange new lands to explore, and journeys to take. As I devoured more and more books, my little corner of the sky expanded exponentially. Every day seemed rich with possibility; surely adventures didn’t only happen in works of fiction. I knew that some day, my life would be exciting enough to merit its own story.

As I grew up, though, I turned my head from the clouds down to my feet. Even if there were epic quests or magical schools in the real world, I wouldn’t have known about them. I never explored the world around me, I shied away from social interaction, and I never left the house without a plan of action. By my own design, my life became completely uninteresting. I followed every instruction and checked every box, but there was always something missing—unless I was sitting in that hideous brown chair.

For several years, I lived vicariously through books. My own life held no excitement, so I compensated by reading about characters’ lives that did. When I sat in that chair, the sunroom went away. In its place appeared an alien planet or a frozen wilderness or a fictional high school. I would immerse myself in my new habitat, donning the native costume and following the action from the background. For the few hours it took me to churn through each novel, I became someone else — someone else who wasn’t so utterly boring.

One day, though, I realized that I was following people through their own ordinary lives. Some of them were even less interesting than I was, and they were still finding meaning amidst the monotony. Most of these characters I loved didn’t fight dragons or ride giant polar bears or chase demons through the mountains. They simply existed in the regular world, seeking out beauty and excitement. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? If I wanted to, I could go out without a plan and stumble upon a spectacular adventure.

So I did it. I got up from my chair and walked out the door. For the first time, I looked not at my feet or at the sky but at the glorious world in between. As I started to discover my own world, my fears of change and surprise faded away. My life grew into a collection of little adventures: interesting people, new experiences, and exciting opportunities appeared at every turn. Though I no longer use reading as a means of escape, I still spend a good amount of time in that ugly leather armchair. I’ll always be a passionate reader, but I no longer reside exclusively within the written word — I have my own beautiful world to explore.

BEWARE: Common App + AP scores

This year, one of my senior friends was filling out the common app and there’s a section for reporting your AP test scores. It says “optional” or something, but if you have taken AP tests and it is on your transcript, you MUST fill this out. Otherwise, colleges will assume that you have failed the test. My friend did not, and when she found out, she had to call every college she applied to to clarify.


EDIT: I’m so so sorry if this has caused panic. I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily have to report! DON’T REPORT SCORES YOU DON’T WANT TO REPORT. 

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!!! 

THE SUMMER BEFORE SENIOR YEAR: 

  • 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!! 

DURING SENIOR YEAR: 

  • 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 

AFTER SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATIONS:

  • 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 

RECEIVING YOUR DECISIONS: 

  • 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!!!

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE APPLYING TO COLLEGE & MAY YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL, BRILLIANT FUTURE :’) 

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Sunset lamp by Cartunia Design

The Italian Cartunia Design company has set their own mission to emphasize the characteristics of cardboard by pushing it beyond common applications. Their first focus is on table lamps. Their last creation is the Sunset lamp, with its moveable cardboard sun, working as a reflector of the light, emitted by the latest LED technology. The lamp uses the structure of the corrugated paper beautifully to its advantage.