Conquering the Common App: what to do NOW to prep for college applications

Rachel Glait Aerospace and Mechanical, College Applications, Rachel, Why USC Leave a Comment

Even though it has been three years since I filled out my college applications as a senior in high school, I vividly remember all of the stress and hard work that goes into applying to college. 

There's so much to do before you can start applying to universities so if you're trying to figure out exactly where to start keep reading!

1. Talk to the College Counselors at your High School

In high school, I volunteered in the counseling center during my senior year. In doing so, I found myself surrounded by resources that I never knew existed. The college counselors at your school literally get payed to help you find universities that would be a good fit for you. I found this extremely helpful since my counselor worked with me to create a list of 10 schools that all had everything I was looking for in a university. Additionally, college counselors can offer specific advice on common app questions and can teach you to market yourself through your essays in a way that would be desirable to many universities. 

2. Cyberstalk your Options 

Looking at each school's website and their specific degree programs and course plans really helped me to narrow down my options (no one wants to fill out 30 applications ok). Granted, you might already be doing this step since you found this blog, but definitely be sure to complete a thorough online investigation of every school you're considering. Take notes on what stands out to you, what interests you, and any questions you may have (this will help you when you need to write essays or do interviews).

3. Make an Excel (or Google) Sheet 

This is probably the most helpful thing to do when you're try to organize your thoughts about universities and attempting to decide where you want to apply. On your sheet, be sure to include the names of each university, their application deadlines, what major you're planning on applying as, what specific requirements each school's applications have (Do you need a letter of rec? Or an additional essay?), and all of the notes you jotted down from the websites you visited. This sheet will be your saving grace throughout the application process. This is your new best friend.

4. Try to Make College Visits

As a high school senior, you should definitely try to make it out to tour a couple of your top choice schools. (Note: Demonstrated interest is dead. You shouldn't be visiting school because you think it will increase your chances of getting in. You should be visiting schools because you want to get as much info as possible about where you may be spending the next four years of your life). At your visits ask questions! Try to see as much of each school as you possibly can while you're there! Talk to the students! You're really trying to see if this is the place where you want to be for the next few years so really try to get a lay of the land. And, as always, TAKE NOTES and add them to your Excel (or Google) sheet!

After you complete these four steps you should have enough info to decide which schools are truly worth your application. Then it's time to start working on your essays (this is where your notes come in) and filling out your apps! 

Good luck! And feel free to reach out to me with any question you may have about the application process!

About the Author

Rachel is a junior studying Mechanical Engineering. Click above to find out more!

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