5 Pieces of College Application Advice

September 28, 2016

1. Stay organized.

There is a lot going on with college applications, from letters of recommendation to different deadlines, so you need to be able to keep track of it all. Make a spreadsheet with the schools you are applying to. Include the different deadlines, application requirements and anything else you can think of on your spreadsheet. Then, when you finish the essay for ABC University, you can highlight it, so you know it’s taken care of. This one document can store all the information you need in order to give your brain a little break.

2. Use the same name.

Pick one name to put on every college application or form you ever see. I did not do this, so I got mail addressed to Katelyn, Katie, Katelyn M, Katie M, Katie Marie, Katelyn Marie and even Katie Ray. I also got doubles and triples of pamphlets from schools because they thought I was a million different people. Choose one name and stick with it, on everything from college tour surveys to the SAT/ACT. It will save your mail carrier, the Earth and your sanity.

Two students looking at a book on a campus.

3. Ask early, remind often.

Some colleges ask for letters of recommendations as a part of the application process. You can ask your teachers, coaches, bosses, club advisors or guidance counselors to write you a recommendation, but make sure to ask these people way before your deadline.

You are asking them to do you a favor by writing a complimentary letter to a college. Don’t put them in a bad mood by procrastinating to the point where they will have to rush to get it done. Also, these people probably have a lot of other things going on, so it’s okay to politely remind them of your deadline. I don’t recommend doing this every day, but maybe once a week to check in.

4. Use your resources.

Your guidance counselors, your parents and the internet have a ton to offer.

Your counselor can help narrow down a list of schools, collect your transcript information and put you in contact with colleges. Your parents can proofread your essay, help plan visits to campuses and act as a sounding board for your concerns or questions. The internet can handle anything in between. There are apps to proofread personal statements for grammar. Colleges put additional information about their applications and selection processes on their websites. Odds are, if you have a questions the internet has the answer somewhere.

5. Be true to yourself.

The center of the college application process is you.

You are the one in the driver’s seat. You can pick where you apply, where you go after you receive your acceptance letters and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Be yourself in the whole application. The essay should be completely unique to you and your perspective. If someone else could have written it, then it is too generic. Share your experiences, your struggles and your passions. Or use your application to show off all the cool things you’ve done and everything you’ve been dreaming about doing. Being you should be easy because you’ve been doing it your whole life anyway. Stay true to who you are, and the colleges will see that shine through.

Katie Goodrich

Meet Katie, the summer 2016 ICI intern: I’m Katie Goodrich, a senior journalism major at an ICI member campus. I believe in grammar, justice and the right to ice cream. I am fluent in English, sarcasm and gibberish. My talents include an incredible memory for ’90s song lyrics, power naps and having just enough bad luck to produce great anecdotes.