Now that I am officially done with college applications, I’ve reflected on the past school year and what could have gone better. Luckily, there were no major screw-ups! Still, there are a few things I would have done differently last fall. Here are the top five college application mistakes I made:
1. Not applying Early Action/Early Answer to every school I could
I wish that I had been organized and prepared enough to apply early to every school that offered the option. I sent in three EA applications, but there were two more schools where I could have (and didn’t). Waiting until late March/April to find out if I got in was really annoying, especially since I had heard back from my top choices in December.
2. Waiting until school started to begin my application essays
I had every intention to work on my essays over the summer, but I never got my act together enough to sit down and crank it out. I really wish I would’ve at least started on them, because I felt extremely overwhelmed at times with having to fill out applications on top of all of my schoolwork. Once senior year starts, you’ll want to spend the weekends at football games and hanging out with friends, not sitting inside writing essays! Even if you just brainstorm and write a rough draft of your Common Application essay, you’ll thank yourself in September. These are the prompts for the 2016-2017 Common Application.
3. Not asking for additional copies of Letters of Recommendation
I asked two teachers to write letters of recommendation for me before junior year was over, and then got in contact with them the fall of senior year to let them know where I needed them sent. I wish I had asked them for printed copies of their recommendations when I gave them the information for where to send the letters. I ended up having to ask them to print out copies for me three or four more times over the course of senior year because I needed them for scholarship applications. Teachers are busy people, so save them some time and ask for 10-15 copies at the beginning of the year when they are writing the letter. Just make sure they are sealed in an envelope with their signature across the seal! This is how most scholarship/internship applications want them to be.
4. Not applying for every scholarship I could
I applied for about 10 local scholarships as well as the national Daughters of the American Revolution scholarships, but I wish I had spent more time looking for regional/national opportunities. After writing about 30 admissions essays and applying to 9 universities, I was pretty burnt out. Looking back, I could have recycled or tweaked many of those essays to fit scholarship applications! Scholarships are free money, and who doesn’t want that? The more, the better. Check out these tips for finding and winning scholarships.
5. Talking about college applications with classmates
With everyone going through the same process, it can be really easy to fall into the trap of talking about your applications 24/7. While it’s nice to have people to complain about the Common App with, be careful what you’re discussing. I’m not saying your classmates aren’t trustworthy, but people can get very desperate when it comes to college apps. I’ve heard horror stories of friendships ruined over stolen essay topics. It’s not worth it!!
Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid these college application mistakes this fall! Graduates: what could have made your college application experience better?