So my mom has been asking me to write this post for a while. Thanks to social distancing I have run out of excuses as to why I don’t have the time. Once I sat down and actually completed this task, I realized I could have done this a long time ago and would not have had to ignore so many of my mom’s calls. Anywho, I hope you find these things helpful as you begin the exciting process of figuring out where you want to spend four years of your life partying like a “rap star”. Did I just say that out loud? Oops, I meant studying hard to be a productive citizen!
1. Make a List
Do not go into the college application process blindsided. Before you start applying, make a list of all the schools that have ever crossed your mind. No matter whether it is considered a “safety,” “match,” or “reach” school*. With this list, do some research. Write out things that may be important to you in a school, such as costs, sports, size, etc. Make your list personal to you, meaning you may not have the same schools or categories on your list as your friends, but like our parents always say, “If your friends jump off a bridge, are you?” You have to spend the next four years at this place; it has to feel like home to YOU.
2. You are More Than a Number
When looking into schools, I consistently found myself taking schools off of my list because I felt I did not fit the “model student” in terms of grades and test scores. While numbers may be significant, there are more components to your application, and colleges are usually looking at the person as a whole. Therefore, make yourself stand out in your essay. Every essay tells a different story, so make sure that yours is memorable. Remember that the worst thing a school can say to you is “no,” and every “no” comes for a reason with something better waiting for you.
3. Stay Organized
I am an organize-fanatic! I have so many planners and calendars in so many different places so that I can keep up with my crazy, busy life. I 1000% recommend keeping at least one planner, with a notes section, to keep critical dates and notes, such as application fee costs and college portal login info. Also in there, write other dates that you need to keep up with, such as FAFSA open/due dates, orientation dates, webinar dates, and any other essential times that you might need to keep track of. I recommend using the common application to complete applications because everything is in one spot and easy to keep up with. If you need planner recommendations, I have them!
4. Find the School for YOU
Like I talked about in number 1, pick the school that YOU can see yourself at for four years. While your friends and family may have some input and opinions, ultimately, it is your life to live. Your happiness comes before anything else, and you want to enjoy these four years. If you are at a place that someone else chose for you, then you might end up miserable. Yes, things such as opinions and costs will have some impact, but if it is for you, you will make it happen no matter what. As you embark on this new life journey, you will learn to put yourself first.
5. Have FUN!
Applying for undergraduate admission is a once in a lifetime experience. Take the time to visit schools and explore new places. Do not confine yourself, and remember the sky is the limit. This experience is going to be different for everyone, and remember to be respectful of that. Apply to those “reach” schools because why not?!? Take pictures of things like you on college visits, you submitting applications, you opening decision letters, and you enjoying senior year. Go to all those last high school events that you think are “lame.” Be proud of yourself!
*A safety school is a school that, based on numbers, you will almost certainly get into because your numbers are above their average numbers. A match school is a school that, based on numbers, you will likely get into because your numbers match their average numbers. A reach school is a school that based on numbers, you have a chance of getting into, but your numbers are lower than their average numbers.