In honor of the Common App opening and the five year anniversary of the start of my own college applications, I’ve decided to start a new series. This “Guide to College Apps” series will outline some of the most important things you need to be aware of when applying to colleges.
When trying to decide what to tackle first, everything can seem really overwhelming. When I was applying, I didn’t really have anyone to help guide me through the process, so the task was EXTREMELY daunting. I hope that through doing this series, I’ll be able to help answer some questions that you might have.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am simply someone who went through this process, recently graduated from college, and want to help others do the same the best way I can.
The first thing that is important when applying is polishing up your resume. You want to make sure you have everything you need to be able to create the best application for yourself. Although most colleges don’t specifically ask for a physical resume with their application, it’s good to put one together as something to reference. Looking at your resume can help you decide how to make your application stronger during your last semester before finally completing the entire process.
Some of the most important things to consider include:
By this time in your high school career (assuming that you are a graduating senior), your grade point average won’t be changing very much. However, become familiar with the difference between weighted and unweighted averages. According to each school, they may look at one or the other. Grades and test scores are the best ways to determine which schools are the best match for you. Even though grades aren’t everything, some schools won’t even consider your application if your scores aren’t above a certain level. Consider retaking the SAT or ACT one last time if you think your scores aren’t up to par.
Is there variety in your extracurricular activities? During my senior year, I was a part of almost every honor society that my school had to offer, while not really doing any of the more fun or exciting clubs. Having something like drama or art club on your resume really shows that you have something that sets you apart from the other applicants. Also, extracurriculars can include a part time job. Having a job shows commitment and responsibility on your part, so don’t worry if this has kept you from joining as many clubs as you wanted.
Volunteering looks REALLY good on a college application. Most people at my high school volunteered at hospitals or animal shelters, which seems to be the norm everywhere but there are many other places as well. Most of my volunteer hours came from helping out at elementary and middle schools, as well as at Science Olympiad competitions. These hours can come from anywhere, but finding something that is fun or interesting to you will make it worth your while.
Special Skills or Talents
Although this isn’t something every school will directly ask you about, it’s something you should be thinking about. What is something that really makes you stand out? Maybe you play an instrument or you speak many languages or you’re great at baking. If you can somehow incorporate this into your essay, do it. If a school has an interview process, make sure to bring it up. People love to see enthusiasm and unique qualities in a person. College application time is one of the only times in your life where it’ll be socially acceptable to brag about yourself, so really take advantage of it.
Use these last few months before applications are due to evaluate your status as an applicant and fit in any last minute activities. Its never too late to join a club or volunteer somewhere!
The next post will be about choosing which colleges are a great match for you and how to decide the number of applications you should send out. While waiting for the next post in the series, check out some of my other college-related posts!
Until next time,
Hit me up on social media!