Headache, Schmeadache, Applying to College is Easy Peasy

James Anders, Senior Editor

Seniors, the pressure is on. College application season is upon us, and with words like restrictive early action, FAFSA, ACT, and possibly even international baccalaureate becoming regular parts of our vocabulary, it is extremely likely the stress may be weighing upon you to the point it is affecting your current education. But look no further! This article is your one stop shop for all resources and tips that will increase your odds for getting into your dream university.


  • Get started: It is important to get started as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. The Common Application opened on August 1st, so while you are not terribly behind, it is important to get moving on the time consuming process at the next convenient point in your life. Luckily, the process does not have to be done all in one sitting, as there are save opportunities on all application platforms, whether that be through the university or college itself, or through the Common App.
  • Make sure you even want to apply there: I’m sure your great, great grandfather attended this university and loved it. But you are not your great, great grandfather. The best way to get to know a campus is to visit it in person. While on the visit it is important to ask a lot of questions that are personal to you, but if you are not sure what you want, here’s a potential list for you http://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/campus-visits/articles/campus-visit-tips/essential-campus-visit-question-list/
  • Become educated on the various admission plans: Once you are positive you could see yourself walking around that college’s quad, it is vital that you become aware of that specific university’s admissions plans. Typically, a university will offer one of two plans, regular decision and some form of early action plan. Once you identify your university’s options head on over to http://www.nacacnet.org/studentinfo/articles/Pages/Admission-Plans.aspx to see which plan is best suited for you.
  • Be unique: Every single university from Earth to Mars has heard the archetype of the kid who lost his Little League Championship game but learned that winning isn’t everything. They don’t care, because that has happened to just about everybody. They want a glimpse into the significant aspects of your life, so be original.
  • Quality over quantity: Some of you may be involved in gazillions of extra-curricular activities and feel the need to write in detail about each one. But I’m sure we each have our favorite. It is important to highlight your personal passion to the university and make sure it is displayed most proudly, whether that be in your personal statement, essay, or your description of the activity. Just let them know what interests you.
  • Take the wheel: Mommy might have birthed you, but she shouldn’t be the one making all the contacts with a prospective college. YOU should be the one emailing admissions counselors, YOU should be the one talking to alumni, and YOU should be the one hitting submit on that application knowing it is 100 percent yours.
  • When you think you’ve proofread it enough, do it again: You’d be surprised at the amount of times people have spelled international baccalaureate “international bachelorette.” A simple misspelling could make or break your essay, so make sure there are none.
  • Be honest: Just because you are applying to an SEC school does not mean you have to lie and say you are interested in sports. Admissions boards want to know the real you, and it is easy to spot the difference. Don’t make that mistake.
  • Be early: It takes time for standardized tests, transcripts, dual credit certifications, letters of recommendation, and your actual application to travel through cyberspace and reach the destination you want to. Most universities also have a separate deadline for automatic scholarship consideration, so make sure you are aware of these deadlines for your school.
  • Options: “But Jimmy, I’m applying to 30 different universities, there is no way I can do this for every single one!” Then don’t. Knock your list down to about six. Do your research for your specific program and analyze your best fit. Then organize your options into one of three categories: reach, prospective, and safe. Your reach universities are universities where you would fit into about the 25th percentile of their student body. The prospective colleges are colleges where you would fall somewhere in the upper 50 percent. And your safe options are places where you would fall into the upper 25 percent. Once you have them organized, knock down your list to your top two within each category, and focus all your attention into those six applications. After you have fool-proofed those six, now you can move on to filling out scholarship applications (don’t even get me started) or possibly other college applications.
  • The veterans: If at any point you get stuck or confused and this article doesn’t help, find a friend who just went through the process and is now attending their freshman year. They went through the same headaches as we are all going through now, so reach out to them (do the same for FAFSA and scholarships).
  • Other resources: here are a couple other links that might help the application process go a little smoother…

Hopefully I have saved you at least a couple headaches. If you have another tip you think should be included, comment below.