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Advice from the Pros: College Applications

Amy Wang, Junior Writer

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Every year, seniors begin applying to colleges from as early as July up until late November. For some, the process can be long and stressful, while for others it can be a breeze. It all just depends on how you decide to fulfill your application. Most college applications typically include the student’s high school GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and personal response essays; all of which are required to be sent out to the colleges before a specific deadline. Now that this year’s college application deadlines have passed, the seniors at FHC are patiently waiting for colleges to respond.

Having crafted their ideal transcript, achieved their desired test score(s), and identified their best fit colleges, seniors Josh Kooistra, Sam Dolphin, Joey Hartert, and Amanda Wang are confident that all their hard work and time put into their college applications will not go to waste. The concept of early application, which allows students to show their dedication to the college and hear back from them earlier than other applicants, makes it a bit easier to bear for the eager applicants.

“In terms of early college applications, I really like the concept,” said Amanda Wang, who received early acceptance to the University of Michigan. “Instead of waiting all the way until April to find out if you are accepted into a college, you can find out as early as December!”

With first choices such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Middlebury, and the University of Michigan, early application was fairly popular among the four and something that they all took advantage of. Depending on the college, the essays can be short and have simple prompts such as, “How will the opportunities at college support you inside and outside of the classroom?” or “Why are you pursuing the major you selected?” They can also be long, involved essays with a myriad of prompts.

“The more intensive writings tend to come from highly respected colleges, especially the Ivy Leagues,” explained Sam Dolphin. “The number of essays required can also vary from zero to three or four, in a few cases; the most common number seems to be two or three, including the Common App essay.”

The essays are perhaps the most important part of a student’s application, because that is where the student has the most power to influence his or her chances of admittance. But a tip from the pros when writing your essay is to “stay true to yourself.”

“Don’t just suck up to the admissions staff and talk about how that’s the only school you’ve ever dreamed of… so what?” said Joshua Kooistra. “Prove to them that you’re unique, that they should want you and not necessarily the other way around. Break free from the mold of what you’ve heard about applications, and prove yourself.”

There isn’t a ton of information required for college applications beyond the basic rudiments besides an optional supplement at the end of the Common App that allows applicants to submit colleges any information that they think will allow those schools to get a better feel of who they are as a person. If students undertook any art or music throughout high school, they would submit an arts supplement, even if it didn’t pertain to what they are planning to pursue in college; activities such as sports and clubs can also be included in this section. Ultimately, your goal is to have the application describe you, your achievements, and important parts of your life.

The most crucial, yet basic part of applying to colleges is deciding which college suits you the best. There is nothing worse than taking your time to write a college application essay, and then realizing that the college isn’t really right for you. Make sure you apply to colleges that you like, and know that you will get into without a doubt, but also don’t be afraid to apply to those schools that may be a little bit of a stretch. Researching more about the schools you are interested in can give you a better perspective of what you wish for in a school and it’s vicinity.

“I want to pursue a degree in physics, and because [Middlebury’s] department isn’t very large, it means I’d have more time learning from the professors themselves instead of from TAs.” explained Kooistra. “I also value a rounded education, and with their emphasis on language in the curriculum, I’m sure I could develop both scientifically and creatively in that environment.”

Although researching, visiting, and applying to colleges can all be a little bit overwhelming during that time, students just need to keep in mind that it will all pay off in the end.

“It is easy, when applying to colleges, to get too worried about your image or your scores,” said Joseph Hartert. “The most important thing is to remember that your application ultimately should be a reflection of you. Don’t approach it like an examination, just relax and enjoy the process.”

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Advice from the Pros: College Applications