With college application season upon us, I have compiled a list of tips I used when I applied to college. I was accepted to the University of Oklahoma and will attend this fall (Boomer!), but I also applied and was accepted to the University of Arkansas. Both schools had very different applications, but these tips should help you with just about every application.
1. Be early
Do your research and figure out what schools accept what application. For example, all public Texas schools will accept the ApplyTexas application. Other schools like the University of Oklahoma will accept the Common Application. And some schools like the University of Arkansas have their own application for their school. But either way, know when they come out. This is as simple as a Google search. Be aware of when they come out so you can begin working on it. The earlier you submit your application, the better. Schools have a limited number of spots for their incoming class, so it’s better to get it in early to secure your place. Also, it shows an admissions counselor that you are interested in their school.
2. Take your Time
Review, review, review and take your time! It is so easy to overlook a mistake simply because you were rushed. Yes, turn in your application early, but be sure to have several sets of eyes take a look. Giving yourself ample time to review and look through everything ensures that you provide the university with all the necessary tools to grant admission. Ask people you trust to take a look at your application and make sure you emphasize that you want them to give honest criticisms so you can create the strongest application possible.
3. Edit, edit, edit, and edit a little more
Going hand in hand with #2, edit your application. There is no way that it is perfect and ready to submit the first time you run through it. I know I sound like a nagging English teacher, but there’s some merit to this. It is so easy to miss a simple error because you didn’t edit enough. Make sure to have someone you trust look over your application and have them mark all over it. A simple error or misspelling in an essay can be the difference between getting into the school or getting wait listed.
4. Be realistic about your options
Make sure to establish your safety, mid, and reach schools. It is important to assess where you rank among your peers. There is no need to apply to an ivy league school if you graduated last in your class. The way to figure out where you rank among those who are also applying to this school is to find out the statistics. This is as simple as “Who is the average student applying to (college/university)”, this will give you an idea of what you are up against. For example, the average student attending the University of Oklahoma had 3.62 GPA, 26 ACT score, is a business major and from Texas. If those bare bones criteria sounded a lot like you, then you know that the University of Oklahoma may be a good mid school for you. Contrarily, the average Harvard student had a 4.10 GPA, 35 ACT score, is Social Science major from the United States with a heavy foreign student population. If that didn’t sound like you, but you still want to apply, know that it will be your reach school. Collegedata.com is my favorite source for all this information.
5. Have a Resume Ready
Time to brag about yourself! Woohoo! In your application, there will be a spot for you to list out every achievement with a short description. Before the application goes live, go ahead and write up a list for every little, miniscule achievement you had since freshman year. Be sure to list any clubs you were involved with, especially those with any leadership role. It comes across very well if you were involved in some club or organization all throughout high school. So if they limit you on how many you can list, be sure to prioritize those clubs first. Don’t be shy about your accomplishments! Especially if you were involved in a variety of things in school. Make sure to list that you were the captain of your drill team and was the senior editor for your yearbook (if you actually did that of course). It is important to show an admissions counselor that you are a well rounded individual.
Hopefully these tips will help as you power through all of those applications! Good luck!
* I have no affiliation with the admissions department at the University of Oklahoma. The criteria for admission varies from school to school.