The college application process can be daunting when there are many application requirements and deadlines. The first step in applying to a university is visiting the website of the school or schools that you are interested in. Make a table that includes rows for each college and columns for application deadlines, admission test requirements such as the ACT or SAT, majors and minors of interest, academic prerequisites including preferred GPA and class rank, unofficial or official transcript requirements, entrance essay prompts and lengths, letters of recommendation requirements, and clubs of interest. Having an organized table will help you compare the requirements of each of the schools of interest and help you keep up with all of the admission requirements. Once you have a clear outline of the application requirements for each school, plan out how you will accomplish each component of the application process. Seeking out someone who is experienced in navigating the college application process can be helpful in ensuring that your application is as strong as it can be
Sign up for the ACT or SAT. Find out what score is recommended for the school(s) of your choice and aim for that score. Having a goal in mind will make preparing for the tests easier. Take many practice tests and seek out guidance from professionals to ensure that you get the desired score.
Request your transcript. Transcripts often take a few weeks to process; thus, it is important to request your transcript from your school once you decide on applying to a certain school.
Ask for letters of recommendations. Most likely the people that you ask to write letters of recommendation will have full schedules. It is polite to give these individuals adequate time to write a meaningful letter of recommendation rather than a rushed letter written in frustration when they find out the deadline is fast approaching. Typically, teachers and professors request at least a month or two to prepare.
Write your college application essay. As soon as the prompt for the school(s) of your choice are released, start brainstorming, outlining, writing, and editing. It is important to give yourself adequate time to polish your essay. Give yourself plenty of time to write your essay, re-read it, and make changes. One of The Brain Domain’s college counselors says, “Tell the college admission officers a story about yourself through your essay. At the end of the story, the officers should know why you would be a good fit for the college. Write many drafts of the essay and have people read it and see if they took away from the essay what you intended them to.” The University of Texas echoes similar suggestions and reminds students: “Don’t allow helpful editors to edit you out of your own essay.”
Key Features of a College Application Essay
- Authenticity: “Use your authentic voice,” says Bonnie, the owner of The Brain Domain. “The rest of your application is mostly numbers and basic information, so use this part of your application to show your personality and opinions. Admission committees want to have a good understanding of the people that that they choose to admit. Write your admission essay from your heart.”
- Organization: Make an outline for your essay including topic sentences and transitions between paragraphs. Organizing your ideas in a way that makes sense will help the reader follow your sentences and paragraphs from one idea to the next. Part of an organized essay is making sure that your essay is within the essay word limit established by your school.
- Clarity: Use words that clearly describe what you are trying to say. Don’t overuse the thesaurus trying to dress up your college application essay. Remember, the admission faculty want to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you are trying to say. Changing the wording in your essay multiple times may compromise the original clarity of thought. The University of Texas says that there usually is little improvement after the third draft.
- Persuasion: Everyone who reads your essay should be convinced that you should be admitted to the school to which you are applying. The most compelling and moving essays written are about topics that are familiar to the writer. Find a topic that satisfies the essay prompt and incorporates familiar topics.
- Honesty: It may be tempting to exaggerate some details in your college application essay, but it is never acceptable to include dishonest information in your application. Make sure that your essay accurately reflects who you are as a person.
Once you have finished your application, it is important to find out whether you qualify for scholarships. Scholarships are the fastest and easiest way to pay for school. There are endless scholarships that can be applied for; however, knowing where to find these scholarships may be challenging. Once you are accepted into a school, call their financial aid office to find out if you qualify for any scholarships. The Brain Domain offers scholarship advising which will simplify the financial aid process. Call us and set up an appointment with one of our trained professionals to get started: (713) 234-5784.
“Requirements, Guidelines and Prompts for Freshman Applicants.” UT College of Liberal Arts:. Web.