As summer ends and the school year begins, seniors start to work on college applications, which can be a complicated and stressful process.
Most admissions involve providing SAT scores, ACT scores, AP scores, a school transcript, personal essays, and an interview.
Before you begin your essays, you must decide which schools you want to apply to since the applications are different with each college. Early decision is offered at majority of schools and involves sending in applications before the normal deadline. Unlike early action, which is nonbinding, if a school accepts you, then you are required to attend that school. Consequences for not attending may include a loss of deposit, other colleges turning you away, and even a lawsuit. I recommend early decision for those who are certain about their college choice.
In regards to starting applications, I recommend creating a schedule since it is important to keep track of deadlines. Rushing at the last minute can result in poorly-written essays that leave a bad impression. Just remember that the earlier you start, the less stressed you will be towards the deadline.
Another major benefit of starting early is the opportunity to ask others to read over your essays and help you make revisions. Always remember that it is okay to ask for help.
You should also work on a brag sheet: a list of academic, athletic, and service achievements. Then, determine which teachers you want to ask about writing letters of recommendation. They will often request your brag sheet so make sure to finish that prior to asking for your letter. Teachers receive an overload of requests for letters, so ask them earlier on in the school year when they are more likely to accept. The quality of the letter will also be better since the teacher will have more time to write it.
The Common Application helps you apply to multiple schools with one application. However, the UC schools do not participate in the Common Application, rather, they share their own general application.
When writing your essay, remember to make the essay memorable with plenty of detail and a story that will stand out from others. Avoid using cliches and be as unique and individual as possible. Do not focus heavily on academic achievements since personal essays are used by colleges to better understand your personality and why you would be a good pick for their school.
For those who are going to work on college applications next year, remember it is never too early to start.