August 20, 2014

Top 20+ issues to think about in your college applications

The winning essays of our 2014 contest covered extremely interesting grounds about decision-making, standardized tests, and deep introspection.  Some of them offered businesslike views of the applicant as a consumer; others dealt with coping with the disappointment of not getting into one’s dream school.

Although the dozens of other entries did not win prizes in this competition, they did raise a significant number of important concerns that arose during the application process.  All of them will be attending college in the fall, and all of them were moved to share their experiences with the new crop of applicants.

Here are some of the issues that are well worth thinking about:

Preparation and planning:

  • Know how and when to utilize the available resources of family, high school teachers, and counselors, but not depending on them to do everything for you.
  • Start your college search earlier in high school and have a bigger and more diverse list of schools.
  •  Prepare for the ACTs and SATs and be ready to take them several times
  •  Fill out applications with care:  Don’t rush!
  • Never wait until the last minute to press “send”
  • Appreciate the importance of college visits
  • Decide how to approach the essays:  Choose a good topic for the personal statement and make a complete list of all the supplementary essays you will have to write; write thoughtful essays
  • Get feedback about your essays and take the advice that you think is good
  • Prepare for the interview and overcome anxiety about it
  • Find ways to correct glitches like forms that get your name wrong
  •  Ask questions if you don’t understand questions, especially in the FAFSA forms
  • Try to get enough financial aid to be able to attend schools that have accepted you
  • Don’t procrastinate!

Individual obstacles:

  • Deal with unexpected obstacles like illness, injuries, or financial setbacks that may affect your plans.
  • Come to terms with some decisions you have made:  drug use, partying, not doing well in school, not participating in activities, dropping courses and sports
  • Learn about yourself, your needs and expectations
  • Overcome insecurity and face the future with hope
  • Learn to cope with the pressure of waiting to hear from your schools when your friends have already gotten in as well as with the pain of rejection.
  • Be sympathetic to others who have been rejected when you were not
  • Do the best you can with catching up with your classmates when you have come to the U.S. from another country and spoken another language.
  • Share the good things about yourself or use the additional information section to explain gaps in your profile
  • Understand the issues that come along with competing with legacy candidates, athletes, in-state applicants, and people with special talents
  • Be proud of who you are


  • Choose the school that is best for you
  • Don’t be ashamed about deciding on a community college for your first two years
  • Balance your desire to play sports for a school with which one will give you the best education
  • Consider the advice of others if it is valuable
  • Get over the fact that a friend you had expected to go with you decides to go elsewhere
  • Be happy with your choice and move forward with a positive attitude

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