College Application Tips

Shaelyn Drost, Managing Editor

Senior year is often viewed as the easy year, the “do nothing” year. The year rampaged by the twisted monster that is Senioritis. However, many things go on behind the scenes. College preparation and applications attribute to a lot of senior stress, as various deadlines, forms, essays, and resumes seem to hover incessantly in the background.

As college application season is in full swing, here are three easy steps for making this process less daunting, and you more successful.

1. Don’t Procrastinate.

Procrastinating this kind of project is easy since there are several components but only one blanket deadline for the full application. Research, writing your essay and resume, getting letters of recommendation, applying for scholarships and financial aid, self-reporting and officially sending transcripts, and actually applying to the school itself is a whirlwind, and it’s easy to just stick your head in the sand and put it off.

One method to combat this all-too-easy temptation is to set yourself due dates for each component of the application. Give yourself a week to write your essay. A weekend to fill out the financial aid forms. A month to get any letters of recommendation.

These deadlines will give you the necessary time limits to get through the process as stress-free as possible, while still making sure you get everything in on time.

2. Do Your Research

Researching your school is paramount. How else would you know if you are right for the school, or if it is right for you?

Find out about what the school is looking for in an applicant. Do they value test scores or class grades? Are they looking for you to be well-rounded, or more focused in one area? Is your GPA high enough? These questions are important to ask yourself when you’re applying, as you can then choose what to emphasize in your application and resume.

Before this, however, it is important to ask yourself if the college is truly what you’re looking for. Don’t apply to a school because your significant other is going there or because you think you’d get bragging rights; go because you find the potential for success in the school. Is it as far or as close from home as you want it to be? Are the class sizes small enough? Are there clubs or sports that you would like to get involved in?

Take some time out of your schedule to research these important aspects, since your time is immeasurably valuable during this process.

3. Clarify Information

One common issue with applying is the confusion many students experience in the process. There aren’t exactly manuals, which can make things tricky; students are forced to rely on information from family, teachers, other students, and their own assumptions.

Talk to your guidance counselor. They can point you in the right direction with any application questions, and give you resources to help you with your applications. They also have access to all of your grades and transcripts, so they can give you individualized help with any concern you may have.

It is also beneficial to attend college fairs and tours, since their information tends to be plentiful and reliable. You can also start to form connections at these events, which could assist you with answers to future application questions and can even help you with admissions depending on their position.

Also, think about college students you already know. They must have done something right! Similar experiences were probably had, so they can share knowledge and have probably gone through the same things that you’re going through, so they can share their advice.


This process is stressful and can be discouraging at times, but realize that there is an end goal. Keeping the ideas of going to a good school and getting that dream job in mind can help to make the process a little easier, and a little more satisfying.

College applications are difficult and intimidating but with the hopes of success, they’re merely stepping stones.