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We need advice!

ElizabethMTElizabethMT Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
As more and more admissions decisions roll in, the time for the class of 2019 to be applying is fast approaching and I am scared, to say the least. I feel like any move I make could be the make or break factor between getting into my dream school or the local school that will offer anyone $20,000 just for being conscious. The class of 2019 would like to request some advice from the most recent classes, 18, 17, 16, and 15. Y'all have the most updated information available on the current state of college admissions all across the country, and we would like you to spread the love. Help your underclassman out and dish out some advice for admissions, anything really. How early to apply, which tests matter most to send, how to make your extracurriculars stand out, how to write a fire application essay, etc. Anything y'all can think of that would help us. Thanks so much and congratulations on your admissions!

Replies to: We need advice!

  • TS0104TS0104 Registered User Posts: 664 Member
    Mom of class of 17 and 19, here. Find a range of schools in between that dream and that local school. Like, a good list of say 10-15 schools that are in between the two extremes, that you can afford. If you have an absolute top choice, no questions, apply ED to it, otherwise apply EA anywhere its an option unless you need more time for test results, rec letters, or to NOT rush your applications. Send your best test scores only unless a school requires that they all be sent. Search the forum on ECs and essays. And take a breath. Students can be happy, successful and thrive at a variety of schools. While it feels right now that your college will define your whole life, it will not. Do your best to find the best fit, craft the best application you can! And look around here some more, there are posts on "what I learned" and that kind of stuff from those who have been there.
  • c0llegenerdc0llegenerd Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    I applied to colleges last year (class of 2018) and am now in my Freshmen year at a University. Regarding your question of how early to apply. It depends: If you have a college that you absolutely love and would definitely go to if you were accepted--apply early decisions! It pays off if you can show the college you want to be there and that you are passionate to be a part of X community/program/club/major there. Fair warning: make sure you check whether the college has a BINDING or NONBINDING early decision policy. This should be stated in the common app for the college. If Early Decision isn't best for you, I always recommend apply Early Action. This is the best way to show colleges you are very interested (if they do not offer ED) and it makes you a lot more likely to be accepted than applying Regular Decision. And, besides that, it gets another application under your belt early on in the process. Regular Decision also works, if the other two are not offered or you do not want to make the commitment/run our of time. Do make sure to check deadlines because Regular Decision is usually the latest option to get your application submitted, so you do not want to miss it!

    Secondly, test scores! Most colleges accept either ACT or SAT, so pick your highest score to submit (there are conversion charts online to compare the scores from both tests)! If a college requests all scores (usually ivy's or tougher schools to get into), you have to send all. But, if you believe there is one test that you took while sick or something was wrong in the testing facility--you can call ACT and report it and they will delete your score (then the college won't see it. During my first ACT the test administrators were talking, so I reported this and they removed my score. Some colleges (usually the ivy's or private schools) ask for 1 or 2 SAT subject tests. These are standardized tests that monitor performance on a specific subject (for ex: bio, Spanish, math 2, etc.). Of course, this means spending more money and studying for/taking more tests! Obviously you should submit these if requested, but if a college does not ask for these don't submit them. I took a German SAT subject test to show that I am a native speaker and to fulfill one of the required subject tests.

    Finally, the last and (what I believe is) the most important part of the application--the essay!
    Writing the 500 word common app essay felt like the hardest and longest task for me, but I think it was the reason many colleges accepted me. For your essay, make sure to read a lot of examples first to see the form and tone people use for this essay. Then again, don't try to use anyone else's idea or format your essay/tone that way. You ARE different which means you have a different (and maybe more appealing to admissions officers) story to tell!
    A few quick tips for the essay:
    - make sure to talk about YOURself
    - don't try to use a pity story (divorce, loss in family, cancer)
    - try not to brag
    - don't list stuff from your resume in your essay
    - talk about an experience, use some story telling if it applies to what you want to convey
    - make sure to mention examples in your story of strong traits you possess- what makes you special :)
    - make sure to write about an experience where you learned something about yourself or show special traits/experiences you have
    - make sure the essay sounds like you wrote it (not your parents!)
    - try to use some nice vocabulary but don't overdo it or use crazy words that you would never use in real life

    Overall- don't stress out too much ( I know everyone says this and it's hard not to)! Getting into a certain college may feel so important right now, but won't matter next year. Everyone ends up where they are meant to be. The application process is just the wall you have to climb to get to the good stuff- end of senior year, a new campus, and so many amazing people to meet and passions to explore!
    Always remember that where you go doesn't define you. You determine who you become and what you do, not a college! Steve Jobs dropped out of college after a few months and look what he did:).
  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    Essay advice: The purpose of the essay is to make them invite you to their school, right? Think about what sort of story you would tell a new friend so that they would invite you to their party.

    - List 10 stories that you COULD write
    - Cross off all but the strongest one--the funniest one, the tenderest one, the one with most meaning
    - Make you the main character (MC) and treat yourself as a MC in a story
    - Show what happened don't tell it. Instead of "I got a new bike for my birthday. It made a clicking sound" write 'The click click click of my new bike shredded the air as I flew down the hill from my birthday party." The first is telling. The second is showing.
    - It's okay to break the story before it ends and write a "nut graph" -- a paragraph that explains what's happening in telling form. "Usually at my birthdays my mom would give me a thousand presents. This time she gave me one. One great present that I never expected because of XYZ" Then you go back to showing the end of the story.

    If your essay is a well-told story, with you as a main character, the reader at the end will probably LIKE YOU more. That will help them advocate for you during committee meeting about your application, and it increases yoru chances of acceptance.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,878 Senior Member
    I am the Dad for a class of 2018 university graduate and a class of 2021 university graduate, both of which found schools to attend which were a good match for them and which were also affordable.

    My first advice is to avoid the notion of even having a dream school. No school is perfect. You want to understand the pluses and minuses of each school. Look for a school that is a good match for you. Pay very little or no attention to "prestige". There are a lot of universities and colleges where you can get a very good education.

    There is a huge gap between Harvard or Stanford versus a "school that will offer anyone $20,000 just for being conscious". There are a very large number of schools that fill this gap very well and that offer very good educations.

    Also, pay attention to the cost. My class of 2018 daughter might not have been too concerned about cost when considering which schools to apply to. However, now that she has graduated she is very glad that she has no debt. Just getting a job that she likes in her field which allows her to pay living expenses is tough enough.

    In terms of extracurriculars, my advice is to participate in ECs that you are interested in. This will improve your chances of sticking with whatever you do and doing it well. You can't live your life trying to please some admissions person who you don't know and will never meet. You can live your life doing what you want to do very well, then finding a school that appreciates what you have done.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 36,129 Super Moderator
    Unfortunately the OP has not been around for a number of months so I will be closing this thread. If the OP comes back they can open a new thread.
This discussion has been closed.