It’s been quite the year of the college search. After placing my deposit, my first reaction was “What do I stress about now?”
So here’s what I learned from my college experience to help make your experience less stressful (even though inevitably it will be). I just decided yesterday where I’m going to college, so I’m writing this all down before I forget. I’ve bolded the most important things or topics. I’m trying to keep it short and sweet so that you can easily find what you need. That’s it. Good luck on your journey. It goes way faster than you think it does. I promise. The days are long, but the years are short. Come up with a good senior quote. Go terriers!
PLEASE. FILL OUT YOUR COMMON APP REQUIREMENTS (i.e. parents’ schools, classes, curriculums, etc.) BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. ALSO, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WILL WRITE YOUR COMMON APP ESSAY ABOUT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. IF YOU CAN, WRITE A DRAFT. COMMON APP ESSAY PROMPTS RELEASE ON AUGUST 1.
Tips for starting the college process
1. Create a resume. It will make your college life much easier. I promise. When filling out the common app, it will allow you to see all of your extra-curricular options and pick out the best one.
2. Making electronic copies of documents is your best friend for editing purposes. You can delete stuff on one and not the other. It will help you if you need to edit words, remove stuff from resumes, use as a checklist, etc.
3. Use the google sheet that your college counselor should provide for you, and DO NOT be afraid to be honest with them. Don’t force yourself to like the colleges they provide for you. You are the one going to college. Not them. Plus it will help them get to know you better as a student.
4. Start thinking about what you want. Location, class size, etc. will be the defining factor(s) for your college choice. For example, mine was location. That was my defining factor that I was really picky about and the reasoning for all the schools I didn’t like was location.
And please fill out your common app before school. All the boxes. It takes forever.
Tips for continuing the college process
1. Create a Notes document with the college name and the admissions rep name and email underneath. You will need it more than you think.
2. If you are not ED’ing, send a college update email to all your schools around late January- early February. I will attach my college update email below. It doesn’t have to be anything long. Just an update.
3. Run everything by your college counselor before you submit it. Even if it’s just a quick email and a quick response, fresh eyes are super helpful. Even have teachers look over your Common App essay if you want some more advice.
4. Apply to more colleges than you think, but don’t overwork yourself. Search up schools on Google that don’t require supplemental essays and work with some of those. OPTIONS ARE KEY (unless you are ED’ing).
5. GO TO THE LOVETT ZOOMS. It allows your name to be put out there. You will be surprised what it can do for you. PRO TIP: Ask if there is anything that really stands out about their school specifically (teachers, classes, dining areas, fun facts, etc.). Write it down. It will help you in your college essay for the “why this school” when you need to pull specific things to prove your research. Typically, what the admin officer will tell you is also what they want to hear. Reach out after the zoom and email saying thank you and asking a question that wasn’t answered. Make something up. Get your name popping up as much as possible.
6. Create a bookmark folder and put all of the links (portals, etc.) that you get from colleges into that bookmark bar. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS. You will end up having to go scavenging for it and you do not want your portal deleted.
7. Create an email folder. One for important college emails. One for decisions/financial aid. It will be important when you are trying to make a decision and needing a specific document.
8. REMEMBER: Do not link your financial aid information to your SCHOOL EMAIL ADDRESS. That email address deactivates when you leave Lovett. Therefore, all those emails will no longer be coming to you in future years.
9. Follow your colleges’ Twitter pages. Typically, colleges will post to Twitter about any specific information about decision release dates, etc. first. Turn those notifications on.
Tips for finishing the process
1. To help choose my college, I pictured myself reacting to telling the parents and which one would make me the most content.
2. Someone recommended flipping a coin, and if you’re disappointed, then there you go.
3. Look at the Instagram of the colleges (the student-run one) that you want to go to and see if you like the people. That was one of my major factors.
4. There are colleges whose deadlines for applications aren’t until mid-April, so no stress if you don’t get into anywhere that you really want.
5. Talk to your college counselor about anything you want. THAT IS THEIR JOB. THEY WILL NOT BE OVERWHELMED BY YOU. You do not need to make an appointment for every single question. Feel free to stop by occasionally and see if they are open. If your college counselor is in a meeting, look in the window, leave, and come back another time that day.
Tips for writing the college essay
For the common app/other essays:
1. Write about something interesting. Have an attention grabber. But try to be unique. Talk about things in your life that are SPECIFIC to YOU. One of the things that I learned in this process is that you don’t necessarily have to be smart, you just have to be interesting. PLEASE, do not talk about anything globally like the pandemic. Don’t write about something you know other people are going to write about.
2. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I was given by reps was that “your parents should be able to look at a line of college essays and distinguish which one is yours without hesitation.”
3. Sometimes, cheesy humor works. But don’t overdo it.
4. Try to hit near the word limit for each of your essays. Do not try to be more than 10 words less than the required word limit. Show off your skills.
5. If you can get it, Grammarly is your best friend for editing errors and synonyms.
6. Keep a desktop folder of all of your essays as well. Your essays need to be in BOTH Word documents and Google documents. Have as many copies as possible. You do not want your progress deleted (this happened to one of my friends and she had to start over).
For the Why ____? essay
In this essay, I talked about something specific to me. What the school would bring me. How I would involve myself. I literally took out words and changed the school names for multiple essays. Just flip some words around. Schools will never know and it will cut your work in half.
Tips for when it comes time for YOU to accept or deny the college
The weird part of the process. I almost actually couldn’t hit the deny button. Denying what I’d spent hours stressing about to go to my top choice. It’s really strange, but you can’t go to all of them. Here is what Ms. Hua told me to say in an email if you cannot find the little button that says update your application response. Email your college counselor if you want something different, but here’s the gist of it:
Thank you so much for my acceptance at (your school)l! Unfortunately, I will not be able to accept a space in your class and will have to respectfully decline the offer. Thank you again for this opportunity!
And that’s it. My college life in 4 pages (minus all the essays). I figured it out. You will go to college. I hope this helps you with any questions you might have or help you along the way for your essays/common app. Be active with your school. Best of luck! You got this!