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Tips for College Applications

By BY MARYANNE HOGAN/The College Auntie - | Sep 3, 2021

The Common Application opened for the 2022-23 school year on August 1st. That means that the college application season is under way, and it is time for high school seniors to get started! Here is what you need to do in the next few months to get your applications sent off to the colleges of your choice.

Make a list of schools where you wish to apply. Hopefully, you have been giving this some thought already and have lots of choices. When I say “lots,” I mean no more than ten, and honestly, seven or eight is better if you are making wise choices (one dream school, two stretch, three target, two safety).

Applying to more than that ends up being costly and an extreme waste of time on everyone’s part. Don’t fall into the trap of applying to “just one more” because you get an e-mail from a school offering a free application or because you go into a last-minute panic.

Once your list is complete, determine how to apply. Are they on the Common Ap? Coalition Ap? Or do they have their own specific application only available on their website? Obviously, it is easier if they are all on one of the combined applications, but very few students end up being that lucky!

Get your essay started right away. There will likely be more than one that will need to be completed, but the main essay will need to be polished and honed many times before you hit that “send” button. Many schools ask for a second or even third short form essay question in addition to the main essay, so get yourself organized now.

Line up your recommenders! Many schools want a recommendation from a teacher (or two) in addition to the letter that is needed from your counselor. If you are thinking of majoring in a STEM subject, get a math or science teacher to write for you. If you are leaning towards social sciences or humanities, then go with an English or history teacher. If you need two teachers, get one of each of the above.

If you do not know your counselor that well, stop by to say “hi” and tell him/her about your college plans. It will help them to write a more personal letter for you. Let them all know if you are planning to apply early, so they will know to get your letter done sooner.

Proof read your applications and essays many times. Ask someone else to proof read them, too. There is nothing that turns off an application reader more quickly than errors in spelling and grammar!

Know the difference between the various early applying options, and whether or not they are right for you.

Pay attention to all the deadlines, as they will creep up on you quickly if you are not organized.

Parents, be ready to prepare and send your FAFSA when the application opens on Oct. 1. The early bird catches the best financial aid worms!

Try to relax and breathe your way through the process. Parents, try very hard to stay out of it and let your student take the lead in this all-important process that is one of the first big steps into adulthood.

There is a lot of work to do, in a short period of time, but try to remember that this time will pass quickly, and soon you will be finished and waiting to hear about your admissions decisions.

Good luck to you all, and as always, if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me via my website: Thecollegeauntie.com.

Maryanne Hogan is an independent college counselor assisting students on Maui.