College applications are really scary at first, especially for students who have no experience applying to programs, jobs, or other opportunities. However, college applications, especially ones hosted through the Common Application, are not too difficult to fill out and don’t take up too much time.
There are six critical components to college applications that will be expanded upon in this article, and every section requires a different approach in order for students to produce a successful and strong application.
This is the section with your basic information: your name, your date of birth, address, among many other things. This section should be relatively easy to fill out and should not take too long.
GPA and Test Score(s)
Although such statistics aren’t the end all in college admissions, they are important, and colleges need to know how you perform in academic settings. Although some students may need a guidance counselor’s help to find out their exact GPA and test scores, this section should also be relatively easy to fill out.
This portion of your application requires a lot of thought and dedication. Although some applications only allow for students to share four activities, and others, like the Common Application, allow students to input up to ten activities, you should try your best to add as many extracurricular activities to your application as possible. This section allows colleges to see what you spend your time doing when you’re not in school, and it’s a critical component to an application reader’s ability to know who you are outside of the classroom.
In this section, it’s important to highlight a wide range of activities, and both breadth and depth are important. Include any leadership roles, jobs, or internships that you have held, especially over the past two years. Include family and household responsibilities that consume a lot of your time, and, if you can, showcase something unique. Keep in mind that colleges don’t want to see a picture-perfect well-rounded student: they want to see “spikey” students who dive deep into their passions and can really bring something to their campus.
Essays, Personal Statements, and Writing Quality
Your essays are the most important part of your application that is completely within your control. Essays allow your voice to rise above your statistics and give you a space to creatively share with application readers what makes you unique. Your essays should share your true interests, passions, personality, and perspectives, and they should avoid being reminiscent of formal academic essays you might write in school.
Although not every student will utilize this section of the application, the additional information section allows students to share information about special circumstances they have undergone and additional qualifications for the university they are applying to. Students tend to write about serious health problems, academic struggles, home problems, or other adversities they have faced throughout their time in high school. Do not be shy to be vulnerable in this section of the application, for it can show application readers how qualified you are for their institution.