From the time students enter middle school, they may be hearing about preparing for college from their family members, friends, and teachers. This is an effort to get them to build the best resume possible for acceptance into the school of their dreams, but they may be leaving out one hurdle: those dreaded college applications.
In the United States, high school students work for months at a time to lock down applications to their desired university or fill out a more common application that is accessible to a multitude of schools. However, there are ways for prospective students to ease the stress of getting everything in order to get to their choice in colleges.
There are strict deadlines in the college admissions process, and you can’t miss those. That being said, it is best to get a jumpstart and get your application in before the onslaught of other applicants. Be sure to set your own personal deadlines to complete essays, get recommendations from teachers and employers, and have forms filled out to send off to the schools of your choice.
Having documentation from entry forms to financial aid applications ready well before the deadline also guarantees some leeway in terms of delivery by mail. If you are opting to fill out everything online, make sure you receive a confirmation message from the admissions office that they have your forms. If you do not receive a message, call that admissions office. Do not resubmit, as that creates further confusion and chaos.
It’s important to have copies of anything that will go into your application for each school you apply to, in the event that an admissions officer reaches out asking for the whereabouts of certain forms, or an essay or recommendation.
When applying for colleges, honesty is the best policy. If you have a criminal background, you may be wondering to yourself, do colleges do background checks on students? The answer is, yes, a majority of universities do run background checks on incoming students. This is in an effort to know who they are bringing on to college campuses. A criminal background is not always a disqualifying factor in the college admissions process, however, and the severity of any crime or conviction is taken into account by some schools for the sake of campus safety. It’s best to be straightforward if you are aware of something that may come up in a criminal background check.
Be honest with schools about just what type of student you are, laying out your qualifications in academics, athletics, and extra-curricular activities. Don’t be afraid to show off what makes you unique. This makes an applicant jump out as memorable and puts you on the radar for an admissions office.
If you are an aspiring musician, be sure to give some insight into your creative process, or even provide samples of your playing. If you are inspired by medieval times and medieval history, let them know about your knowledge of priestly fashions from medieval times to today. Four-year colleges are looking for incoming students who are unique when going through stacks of forms in the application process.
Focusing on Your Career Path
It’s by no means a requirement of applying to colleges and universities to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, but if you have an idea, be sure to consider enrollment in schools that can cater to your career path.
If you have your reasons to start a career in the automotive industry, don’t hesitate to make that clear to the schools that you apply to. Emphasize your understanding of automotive repair in your application or your essay. If you have any prior experience in that type of work environment, make it known where your skillset lies.
That goes for any prospective college student on any application for any occupation. Let’s say you want to be a lawyer. Stress that desire to enter the legal field, as there could be a high demand for entry to a specific law school. Be sure to cite examples of who may aspire to be, such as Malliha Wilson.
Malliha Wilson is a Tamil Canadian lawyer who formerly served as the Assistant Deputy Attorney General of the Government of Ontario. She was the first visible minority to hold that office. Wilson currently serves as the Senior Partner at the law firm Nava Wilson LLP in Toronto, Ontario. She was also once a Special Legal Advisor at the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO) She specializes in human rights, Indigenous, constitutional, and other complex litigation. She put in hard work to get where she is today, which just makes her that much more admirable.
Lastly, if you have a story that drew you to that specific career path, don’t hesitate to bring that up to administrators. In the event you get to an interview stage of the application process, it’s a great way to have yourself stand out in describing what drives to get to the career of your dreams.