The college application process can be a lengthy endeavor. Many high school students become anxious over the amount of work required for applying for the colleges of their choices. To make matters more difficult, students are advised to apply to several different colleges to ensure acceptance into at least one of their school choices. This means as a high school senior you will have to navigate the college application process for not just one, but for many different universities. While applying to schools may seem like an overwhelming task, with proper planning and adherence to application deadlines the process can go rather smoothly.
Before you start your applications, it is important to familiarize yourself with the application lingo. Schools vary on their admissions policies therefore you will want to know which colleges, if any, that you are applying for offer early admission, early decision, regular admissions, open or rolling admissions. You will also want to understand the different types of admissions decisions. Admitted, deferred acceptance, denied, and waitlisted are all key admissions decisions that you can encounter. Each decision requires a different response and will affect which school you will ultimately attend.
After you have narrowed down your top school choices, taken your required standardized tests, and familiarized yourself with the application lingo, you can create your own application checklist. Sit down and write out all the application requirements for each school you want to apply to. Be sure to include all financial aid information, important deadlines and any unusual application criterions. Once you understand what is needed for each application check out to see if your school accepts a common application.

Personal references, otherwise known as letters of recommendations, are essential to give college admissions boards a chance to get to know you better by giving them a chance to see you through the eyes of your teachers, employers, or family friends. Just remember to give the people who are writing letters all the necessary information for writing and sending the letters and do not forget to send handwritten thank you cards to anyone who wrote letters for you.

Another important element to your college application is your personal statement, also known as your college essay. This essay should be a representation of you and should convey who you are, where you are going, and what you have to offer the college or university. Before you sit down to write your personal statement check each school’s application requirements, either online or with your admissions counselor. Some schools have a generic essay topic while other asks you to write on a specific idea or concept.

The college interview is often a very important part of the admissions process. Colleges and universities use this time to get to know prospective students and decide whether or not they are a good fit for the institution, and sometimes whether or not they want to offer the students financial aid. Even if your school does not require an interview, you can usually request one. Your college interview can help set you apart from other prospective students.

Remember colleges are not only looking for smart students, but also for students who will diversify and enrich their campuses. Another way to stand out is by breaking the mode of normal applicants. Try applying to schools where you are the minority. For example, if you are from the west coast look into schools on the east coast. Colleges are always looking for students who will make them look good; those who will get involved, make good grades, and become successful alumni in the future. So increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice by doing the usual and the unusual.

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