College Application Tips | Teen Ink

College Application Tips MAG

October 29, 2008
By jessica_wave GOLD, Corona, California
jessica_wave GOLD, Corona, California
12 articles 0 photos 0 comments

With college admissions becoming increasingly competitive and deadlines constantly looming, upperclassmen are always stressing to ensure that their applications are up to par. But fret not! The process can be simplified by following these tips.

Pick your schools. Are you interested in colleges with fewer than 5,000 students, or more than 20,000? Public or private? In-state or out-of-state? Urban, suburban, or rural setting? Will cost be an issue? With these factors in mind, create a list of six to eight schools, some that are a reach for your top choices, a few schools that you wouldn’t mind going to if you got in, and a couple of safety schools that should ­accept you without question. Mark their deadlines on your calendar and start planning your applications.

Start thinking about recommendations. You should find three teachers in academic subjects who are willing to brag about you, so get going. Which ones love you? In which classes did you excel? And most importantly, who do you think is going to write a letter about how qualified and intelligent you are? Those who know you personally are your best bets.

Transcripts. Request your most ­recent transcripts at the registrar’s office to send to colleges based on their deadlines. Senior year is not an excuse to slack off!

Alphabet soup. All those tests – SAT, SAT II, AP, ACT – will finally mean something! Find out which ones your colleges require or recommend, and be sure to report your scores in time. If you plan ahead, you can take tests over, if necessary.

The infamous essay. Your most significant experience, your favorite book, what world crisis you would solve and how … for some reason, colleges think that requiring applicants to compose an essay on these topics will make them more personable. Well, don’t let that limit you. Stretch the college’s prompt as much as you need to paint a good picture of yourself. That’s the point.

Have your teachers and peers edit your essay until you have a good draft, but make sure to ask for help nicely and in advance. Revisions from teachers who are unfamiliar with your writing will likely benefit you the most.

Remember that your essays can be ­recycled, shortened, or lengthened as needed to fit a college’s guidelines. Don’t limit yourself.

Mercy in the Common Application. In the midst of rigorous college regulations and requirements, a genius came up with the common application. Thousands of universities accept this standard application in place of their own, so ­instead of filling out eight different ­applications, you may be able to do only a couple. The college’s admission website will usually say whether they accept the Common App, but for a complete list, visit Some colleges require a supplement, so make sure you complete this if necessary.

Early action/decision. There are pros and cons to being an early-action applicant. You must begin working on your application(s) very early. Early action is like having two shots at a school. However, if you need financial aid, early ­action is discouraged.

Those are the basics. Good luck!

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This article has 2 comments.

on Mar. 14 2012 at 3:33 am
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on Oct. 24 2009 at 9:59 am
Electricity PLATINUM, Bradenton, Florida
30 articles 0 photos 271 comments
WOw, thanks. I've been considering colleges, though I'm only 24. I really want to go to NYU. This article you wrote was a big help!