8 Tips for Seniors Applying to College
I just finished my freshman year in college at Birmingham-Southern. I remember how stressful and draining my senior year of high school was. I was filling out application after application, and writing essay after essay. I want to help spare any extra anxiety or stress for rising seniors this fall! Here are some tips for students who are about to start submitting college applications.
1. Use the Common App.
Some schools invite you to submit an application unique to their school, but don’t be fooled! It does not negatively affect your admission if you fill out the Common App, and it is so much easier. If you’re spending extra time filling out an application that is not required, it should be for a scholarship, instead.
2. Apply for outside scholarships.
Oftentimes, outside scholarships are less competitive than scholarships offered directly through your school. There are individual factors you may not know about that make you eligible for scholarships. For example, did you know you can get a scholarship for being left-handed? Do some research!
3. Spend the most time on your Common App essay.
Your Common App essay is how the school gets to know you, so make it personal, unique, and be 100% yourself. Think about something that makes you stand out from everyone else. This is also the part of your application that will be seen by each school you apply to, so you should start on it as soon as possible. Make every adult available to you read it and edit it for you: teachers, parents, neighbors, etc. If you’re afraid to give it to someone to edit it for you, then you should not be submitting it to colleges.
4. Reach out to the schools you’ve applied to.
Communicating with the schools you apply to shows them that you are invested and care about your admission. They will remember you positively, and you will probably learn about opportunities other applicants are completely unaware of. It will definitely work to your advantage, and (bonus) it helps you get to know your schools better, so you will be more likely to find your perfect fit.
5. Create a Cappex account.
This is a great way to learn inside information admissions counselors won’t tell you. Through Cappex, you can research any school, and it provides all the information you could ask for in one place. Tuition, student body population, average monthly temperatures, etc. It even provides reviews submitted by students who have attended the schools, giving honest feedback on their experience. It also gives you a percentage telling you what they predict your “fit” at that school would be would you fill out your profile information. It also provides you with scholarships opportunities!
6. Apply early action.
NOT early decision! Applying early action means that you submit your application early, but it is NOT binding. Early decision requires you to attend the college if you are accepted. Applying early action allows you to receive your admission decision early and gives you more time to make decisions.
7. Don’t rule out private schools because of cost.
I have a lot of friends who did not apply to private schools because of their high tuitions. However, private schools actually give pretty high scholarships! After comparing financial aid, I would have paid more for state schools than some private schools. Here’s a secret – no one at my school was paying the sticker price tuition. Birmingham-Southern lowered the cost of their tuition this year with the intention of being more honest about what students were paying. So don’t be afraid of private schools! Most of them also have free applications, so if you’re interested, apply!
8. Don’t be afraid to stay in-state or close to home.
My entire high school life, I had said that I didn’t want to go to college in my home state, Alabama. However, nineteen-year-old me couldn’t be more grateful that I applied to BSC and chose it as my school. Sometimes, a school in your state will be the perfect fit for you, so don’t miss out on that opportunity just based on one tiny factor.
I hope this advice was helpful to seniors who are already eager for the application process to be over. Good luck, and I can’t wait for you to find your new home! Comment below any questions about the college application process, and let me know what schools you’re applying to!