Avoiding preventable mistakes is the best way to improve your outcome in the increasingly competitive college admissions process. The preparation of a successful college application does not happen overnight. In fact, it is the culmination of years of work throughout high school. The most successful college applicants take a number of components into consideration as they approach the application process. Here are three mistakes these individuals don’t make:
They don’t blow off essay responses or required documentation.
They know that having a strong GPA and above-average test scores is not enough. They invest time and thought into their essay responses. They don’t wait until the last minute to submit their applications and keep the schools’ deadlines in mind. They request letters of recommendation in a timely manner to allow teachers/counselors sufficient time to reflect before writing their recommendation. They use their essays as an opportunity to demonstrate their specific interests, life experience, and aspirations – not just to repeat information found elsewhere in their application. They share information and stories that help fill in the broader picture of who they are and how they can contribute to the overall college environment.
They don’t neglect to consider appropriate college fit.
These applicants might begin with an initial list of colleges that family members or friends recommend, but they don’t stop there. They apply to a range of schools that are a good fit for them, including fallbacks and dream schools. They invest time into researching which schools are the best matches for them on many levels (consider the following: size of student population, distance from home, financial obligations, academic interests, special programs, clubs, alumni ties). They use online resources to gather information and insight into the sorts of programs and activities available at each college. They schedule campus tours and reach out to college counselors whenever possible. They speak with students at the schools as well as recent graduates. They ask their tour guides/hosts questions about how/why they selected the college and about experiences they’ve had there that matched their expectations. They also ask whether the guides/hosts would do anything differently in hindsight. Successful applicants can articulate why each school they’re targeting is a good fit for them.
They don’t take it easy their senior year.
They maintain a rigorous curriculum throughout high school, demonstrate an upward trend in academic demands, and engage in ongoing extracurricular involvement with increasing leadership responsibility. They don’t blow off senior year. They still have fun, of course, but they keep their future goals in mind as well. They make sure to stay on top of assignments and prepare well for exams.
Although these points might seem logical to the point of being obvious, these are nonetheless common oversights. Successful college applicants take care to avoid these mistakes.
Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for more than 20 years. Marie has counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated more than 5,000 applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch.