While choosing a college can be a lot of fun, especially if you attend the open weekends and go on campus tours, the application process itself is nerve-wracking. You have to somehow demonstrate all your good qualities in an online form and essay, followed by the seemingly endless waits for a response. There are lots of myths and misconceptions about the application process and how admissions work, so here are some pointers for every student applying to college.
1. You may need up to three recommendation letters
You may be relying on a recommendation letter from your favorite teacher or a guidance counselor, but the best schools may ask for three recommendation letters as part of the process. Around the time college applications are due, teachers and other school staff will receive a raft of requests, so ask early, and don’t forget to be polite.
2. GPA requirements are only one metric used
Some students are put off from applying for certain schools because they haven’t quite got the GPA that colleges ask for. It is certainly important to take averages into account, so you should look up the UNC GPA on CampusReel if you want to attend this prestigious college, but you should also consider your SAT scores and all the other qualities you can bring to the table.
3. Colleges want to see a creative essay
Too many students write college essays that they think will hit all the right notes but end up sounding like they’ve been coached. If you have to come up with your own essay title, come up with an idea that’s outside the box and creative. Writing something that’s engaging, interesting, and even a bit funny can be a big challenge, but if you can pull it off, you are set.
4. Sticking with the same extracurricular activities can impress
College applications will leave lots of space for you to add all the extracurricular activities you take part in, but don’t feel like you have to fill in all those blanks.
When it comes to extracurricular activities, you should:
- Stick with the same ones as long as possible – this shows commitment
- Find ones that are relevant to your chosen degree if possible – for example, if you want to study political science, take part in student government. If you are going to apply to law school, join the debate team
- Try to get a position of responsibility within your team – i.e., captain or treasurer
- Quality over quantity is key
5. Most students get their first choice
The good news for those struggling with their college application is that nearly 75% of students get into their first-choice college. This doesn’t mean that getting into college is easy, but that if you pick the right one and put effort into your application, there’s a good likelihood of you getting into a great school.
Each college has its own admissions policies and usually considers each applicant on a person-by-person basis. However, there are steps you can take to get your application noticed, and these are just a few ways to improve your chances of getting into your first choice.