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Strategies to Improve Your College Application

College application periods are stressful for many high school seniors, but they don’t have to be. You’ve already taken the majority of classes that college admissions staff will factor into their decision-making. All that’s left is to send the best application possible. Between the general application, personal essay, letters of recommendation, and SAT scores, it can quickly get overwhelming. Taking extra time to polish your application will set you apart from the majority of candidates. Below, we’ve listed seven valuable tips to ensure that your submission doesn’t go straight to the rejection pile. Get ready to make your college applications a great success!

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 1

Don’t Send in Low Test Scores (If You Can Help It)

Most colleges and universities require an accredited test score from the SAT or ACT, but not all of them do. Before submitting your score, take a look at the school’s application requirements to see the average SAT score they accept. If your test score is below average, and the school doesn’t require one for admission, it might be best to omit it from your application. Sometimes, too much information can hurt your chances. Likewise, if you’re applying for an MBA, your job history may allow you to waive college testing requirements. Make sure you apply for any waivers you can.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 2

Choose Your Best Letters of Recommendation

Next, find out how many recommendation letters each college requires. Without this info, you may send too many or too few letters. For example, let’s say you submit four letters to your dream school, but they only require two. Most likely, the admissions counselor that receives your application will pick two of the letters at random, and toss the others. If you’re satisfied with all four letters, this might not be a problem, but there’s probably one letter that stands out from the pack. You want to make sure that it gets read. On the other hand, if you only send one rec letter and the college requires two, the application will be incomplete. Again, it pays to do your research.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 3

Proofread Everything!

Spelling errors are the easiest way to sabotage your admissions chances, but they’re also easy to avoid. If you’re not the best at spelling, just ask a parent or older sibling to proofread the entire application before clicking “submit.” An additional set of eyes will help to catch typos you may have missed. Conversely, if you’re fresh off a SAT prep course and have a bountiful vocabulary to select from, be careful not to overdo it. Using the wrong word in a plea to sound smarter is not a very good idea.

Admissions officers will see right through it, and they’ll get the sense that you’re trying too hard. Just be yourself, spell words correctly, and you’ll do fine. While most word processing applications, like MS Word, have spell and grammar check software, often, they aren’t the best. Check out additional apps like Grammarly that can help you make a fantastic impression.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 4

Write Legibly

These days, most college applications are handled digitally, which means you don’t need to worry about poor penmanship. If you do have to submit a paper app, make sure to write as neatly as possible. Here’s a tip: start by writing your application answers on scrap paper, to avoid needing to erase or cross out errors. If you have the option, type out your personal essay instead of writing it.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 5

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Apply

College admissions officers are smart. They keep track of when each application comes in, and students who turn in their paperwork on the due date are less likely to be accepted. In the school’s eyes, applying at the last minute signifies a lack of motivation, or that they’re not a high priority for you. Even if none of this is true and the university is your first choice, they still have plenty of other prospects applying on time. Avoid waiting until the actual deadline by setting an earlier goal for yourself. We recommend turning in your application at least four weeks early.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 6

Differentiate Yourself, Whenever Possible

Inevitably, every application will have a section that asks why you hope to attend their university. Take this opportunity to showcase your individuality and positive attributes. Avoid generic, half-hearted answers. Choose a particular feature of the school that enticed you to apply in the first place, and then connect it to your long-term goals. Colleges want to see proof that you’re passionate about their campus and believe their school will help you achieve your dreams.

7 Tips to Improve Your College Application 7

Stay Involved in the College Network

Unfortunately, the admissions process doesn’t begin and end with the application. Having an active social media presence — especially when you’re following or liking a college’s page — can also earn you brownie points. At the minimum, you should follow every prospective school on Facebook and Instagram. If there’s a professor you admire in a particular program, you can follow their Twitter account and involve yourself in their online discussions. The more genuine enthusiasm you show for a college, the better your chances of standing out in a sea of applicants.

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