Last year, some students feared rejection when asking someone to Homecoming. Now that they are seniors, they fear being rejected by college admission boards.
“Your senior year is going to be much easier than last year.” This is what all of your teachers and other high school graduates tell you. However, they fail to mention the extra work and stress that comes along with having to apply to universities that can determine your future.
For any high school senior who is planning on going to a four year college straight out of high school, this is the time that the past three years have all led up to.
For years, many students have joined volunteer programs, started community service clubs, or taken challenging AP classes with the hopes of making their college applications look “perfect.” Some students have even done a combination of all of these things to try to compete with the wide range of qualified applicants.
Something important to remember throughout this application process is to not compare yourself to your classmates and friends. Every student has their own strengths and weaknesses, and your essays are where you can show why you are a qualified applicant.
Julia Savea, the Center Director of C2 Education of Mission Viejo and an experienced college counselor, agrees that staying true to yourself is crucial to writing good college essays. She advises students to “Be genuine. Colleges know all the little tricks… The most powerful thing you can put into your application is a genuine reflection of who you are, what you stand for, and what’s important to you.”
Admission officers will already be able to see your transcripts and test scores. Your essays are where you can really express what kind of person you are and the experiences that have shaped your life.
These essays can range from a short question that asks, “Describe yourself in five words,” to a 650 word essay that asks a broad and confusing question such as, “What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?”
Some colleges only require one essay question, and the Cal State schools don’t require any. However, some of the more competitive universities ask for more than ten questions so that they can get to know about each applicant.
A helpful way to plan what to write about is to make a list of all of the things that you would like your application to feature. Then, try to fit these topics into the given essay questions in a way that represents all of your best aspects while simultaneously describing you as a well-rounded applicant.
One factor that plays an important role throughout the application process is time management. If you are submitting an application to your dream school, you will want it to be the most accurate and well-written reflection of the things that you have done and the person that you have become.
If you start writing your essays and filling out your application just one week before the due date, you will not have enough time to edit and submit an application that you are proud of. Leaving your applications for the last minute will also leave you with excessive stress during a busy time of the school year.
Jiu Choe, a senior at Mission Viejo High School and a well-qualified college applicant, advises students to start working on their applications and essays as soon as possible. He says, “You should have a list of colleges that you’re applying to and find the dates that their applications are due so that you can make sure you have enough time to finish them.”
Colleges are becoming increasingly selective, and highly qualified students get rejected from many schools each year. For seniors who fear of not getting into their dream school, it can help to take a step back and realize that where you end up getting your degree from in the end is more important than where you start. For some students, community college may be a better and definitely more affordable option.
Although applying to colleges is not an easy task and only adds onto the stresses of senior year, it is just one small step towards a big future.