Documenting the life and times of a dreamer on her gap year. 

6 Tips for Seniors Applying to College

6 Tips for Seniors Applying to College

With school just around the corner, I was reminiscing on last year, my senior year of high school. Though I had to miss a lot of school (a story for another blog post!), I had so many amazing experiences last year and graduated with over a hundred of my favorite people. Senior year is pretty awesome.

If you’re going into your senior year, you may be super excited about that graduation, or maybe for prom or homecoming or just having more privileges than underclassmen do. There’s a pretty good chance, though, that you’re dreading one of the first experiences of your senior year: the college application process.

Have no fear! Not to brag, but I’d like to think I did pretty well in the whole college thing, and I really want to share my Top Six Tips for a Smooth College Application Process with you!

1. Treat College Applications as a Class

This was one of the best tips I received last year, from my college counselor. You’re probably overwhelmed with your academic schedule this year, but thinking of applying to college as another class is the best way to make sure you stay on top of your responsibilities. You wouldn’t just not hand in a history essay or a science lab because you had too much to do, right? In the same way, you need to commit to finishing essay drafts or reworking short answers in the same way.

2. Find Your Planner Style

I’m a huge advocate of having planning be a daily part of a student’s life, but if you haven’t gotten on that train yet, I suggest you hop on ASAP!! In addition to all the dates you need to remember for school, sports, extracurriculars, a job, and family commitments, you now have extra appointments because of college. Missing a meeting with a college counselor is bad enough, but I know several of my friends have missed meetings with admissions representatives or even been late to interviews because they didn’t write it down in their schedule.

3. Break Every Task Into Chunks

Sometimes, the Common Application will do this for you -- maybe on Monday night, you’ll fill out the education and testing sections, leaving the more in-depth activities section for Wednesday during a free period. However, there can be a temptation to try and do too much at once, either to get an icky essay over with or because you’ve procrastinated. Really try and separate bigger parts of admissions into sections that you can schedule, adding in some breathing room between. There’s absolutely nothing that says you have to write the final version of a short answer response in one sitting, and trying to do the Common App Essay is probably nuts.

4. Don’t Forget Financial Aid!

When you’re finally done with the basic application for a school, there’s a tiny chance you’re willing to go ahead and write another 400-word (or longer!) answer about why you’re interested in the Honors Program. But just remember, if your essay passes inspection, you could be earning real money for that! One of my best friends got into their dream school, but realized that because of a lack of financial aid, they would have to turn down the offer. Luckily, they petitioned the admissions board at that school, seeking a scholarship, and got it! They’re at their #1 choice school now, so don’t lose hope even if this step doesn’t quite work out in your favor at first.

5. Take Time to Self-Reflect

Choosing which college to go to is a huge decision, and that choice starts with the colleges you apply to in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with applying to a school because your parents went there, but you need to be sure it’s somewhere you could see yourself, too. Similarly, don’t apply to an Ivy League school just for the brand recognition if you don’t think it’s a good fit for you or what you want to study. That’s like buying a pair of designer jeans, even though they don’t fit and cut off your circulation. So not worth it!

6. Keep An Open Mind

Finally, my last tip is to keep an open mind about the college process. In my opinion, this is THE most important thing you can do when it comes to applying to college. A lot of my friends had their hearts set on a certain school or a certain situation, and sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. What ends up happening is ALWAYS better than the plan, though, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. I got waitlisted by what I thought were two of my top schools (and then later denied outright!), and I was really disappointed by that. It’s okay to be sad -- you need to let yourself feel ALL the crazy emotions that come with this time! -- but remember to keep your mind open to your other options. I ended up receiving a full scholarship from a school that I hadn’t even considered until early in senior year. That’s where I’ll be attending next year, and I can honestly say that I’m going to my dream school. Everything falls in line sooner or later, and at some point, you’ll look back on the college application experience and say, “Oh, NOW I get it.”


So there you have it! Those are my top six tips for a smooth college application process. I hope these help you out this fall -- let me know in the comments below which tip was your favorite!

Until next time!

XOXO, Maria

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