Looking Back on College Applications
My application process has gone in the way I wanted: I got accepted into my first choice school, Fordham University. My high school career has been stressing over grades, working long hours, and pushing myself to the edge of my breaking point time and time again. In the end, though, the work was worth it, because I’ll be going off to the college I want to be at in the fall. The application process felt easy in comparison to the work I’ve done in the past four years. In retrospect, there are things that I would have done differently in my application process, and there’s some decisions I’m glad I stuck with. Here are my suggestions for those still completing college apps:
In deciding where I wanted to apply, my family supported my decision to visit my top schools. While this can be expensive, especially if you’re looking at schools across the country, this was ultimately one of the best tools for me – visiting allows you to place yourself at the school, and you can properly get a vision in your head of what life at that particular school would look like.
Before visiting the East Coast, I thought I was going to apply to Rochester University. When I visited, I realized that it wasn’t the school for me – that’s not to say that it’s a bad school, but rather that I simply couldn’t see myself living in Rochester for the next four years of my life. The Greek life was too prevalent for me, the education was based mostly on research (and I’m not going into math or science, so I don’t really have a yearning for research), and I didn’t like the surrounding community; all of these things together helped me decide not to apply. Visiting is expensive, but in the long run, it’s more valuable than simply looking at the colleges online. If you can’t visit, try and get in contact with someone who has knowledge of the school – either your admissions representative or someone who has attended the school in the past. You can also use a college search engine: put all of your desired traits for the school you want to attend into College Board’s search application, and you’ll probably find a few desirable schools to get you started.
The biggest change to my application process would be allotting my time differently. While I figured out the seven schools I was going to apply to long before applications were due, I didn’t start on any of them until early October. While the questions section of the common app is fairly easy, it is time consuming – start early on this portion, because wasting time on this branch is extremely likely. When it comes to the essay, start early. I wrote my essay three days before my first early action application was due. Granted, I work best under pressure, but I’m still unsure if the essay I cranked out was the finest work I could’ve produced. Starting in the summer ensures that you’ll present yourself in the best light to the admissions board.
Filling out applications can be difficult – the hardest question I came across asks the applicant why they’re interested in a school. If you don’t know a lot about the school, their academics, and the surrounding community these questions can be hard to answer. Do some research to make the process a little easier – this includes looking at the surrounding town and community, identifying their best majors (and decide if that major is what you’re interested in), and college life on campus. Also, before applying, look at the application requirements to ensure that you meet them – teacher recommendations, extra essays, and ACT/SAT scores are almost always required.
Overall, I didn’t mind applying to schools. Often, the essay prompts made me analyze how I’ve grown as a person during high school, and I can firmly tell you that upon reflection I am not who I was as a freshman. I’m more aware of my surroundings, I listen better, and I know the reasoning behind my beliefs, which is different from four years ago when I blindly followed my morals without thinking. Take the opportunity to identify who you are and what you stand for.
College apps may take a long time, and they might be stressful, but in the long run it’s worth it – in the end, hopefully, you’ll end up at your dream school. Good luck to all the seniors finishing up applications, and may your results be good!