Start applications now
June 27, 2013 1:10PM
Updated: July 30, 2013 7:41AM
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I will be a senior in high school this fall and I want to begin the college application process. I am targeting first and second tier colleges like the Ivy League schools, Northwestern, and the University of Southern California. What do you suggest that I do that will enhance my chances of acceptance at the schools I am most interested in?
Signed: A Senior
Get busy now! Do not take wait until fall to start filling out applications. Here are some suggestions about things to do and what not do that will give you a leg up on the competition.
The fall semester of your senior year is normally the busiest time in your high school career. The worst thing you could do is procrastinate or get bored with the college application process.
Start by filling out the basic information required in the Common Application, which is used by most colleges and universities. Schools generally start accepting applications on Aug. 1, so you don’t have a lot of time to complete them before your classes begin this fall.
Explore college websites to get as much background as possible about your selected schools and the areas of study that interest you. Make a list of your extracurricular activities and see if you can find a list of essay questions that you will use in your application packets.
If possible, visit the campuses of the schools that interest you.
Warning: Be wary about your posts on social networking sites. College admissions officers understand your need for individual expression and may never look at them, but there are exceptions, and no rule says they can’t. Be on alert for anonymous comments placed by jealous classmates. The competition can get pretty cut throat when it comes to top colleges.
This is also a good time to clean up your email address. Names like “hotbabe” or “Ihatetests” are not going to impress the admissions office. Use your real name, or at least part of it, in your email address.
Be honest about your academic record, because letters of acceptance can be revoked.
Essays play a pivotal role in applications. Most competitive colleges require a personal essay, and many require as many as 10 or 15 additional essays.
Be aggressive in your writing style and do not repeat information listed in other parts of the application. Above all, don’t be boring!
Now is the time to brush up on your writing skills and use your summer downtime to good advantage. I promise you that you will not be sorry that you did.