Matt’s Declassified College Application Survival Guide

One day during senior year, it strikes you — the real world is drawing closer and closer. The past four years of your high school experience and all of the memories that you made throughout begin to flash before your eyes. The college process is here, and it’s time to prepare yourself; it’s application time. These are a few tips that will help you through the process, whether you’re a senior preparing for college or even a freshman who has just started high school. This is Matt’s Declassified College Application Survival Guide.

After completing my own process of sending out a few applications, visiting some colleges, researching majors, and seeking information from other sources, I can safely say that it can all be done without much stress; time management is key. With all of the stressful and time-consuming activities clogging your everyday life, it is hard to put much thought into college until the last possible moment. I understand that everyone, including the seniors, still have time to figure out what they may want their futures to entail. But I highly recommended you start as soon as possible.  My advice to you is to begin researching what you’re interested in. Begin research as early as you can, I began my research when I was a freshman. Find jobs that may interest you when you’re older, jobs that will fit who you are. The better you know yourself and what you like, the easier the college process will be. If you like helping people, you may go into a medical field. For those more sociable, business may be of interest to you. Another thing I would highly recommend is deciding what type of college best fits you. Colleges cover all sorts of different spectrums — large, small, beautiful city, beautiful campus, sports, clubs, etc. You may also want to keep in mind the distance you would be willing to go for college. For me, I wanted to stay in the New England area. Not only did I want to stay around here because it would be cheaper on travel expenses, but I also wanted to stay closer to home because I’m too much of a momma’s boy. But that’s just me, everyone is different and I want to encourage you to chase your personal college dreams.

When the time is approaching for you to begin sending out applications (either fall for early action or winter for early decision of your senior year), there are a few things you need to keep in mind: Deadlines, The Common App, Recommendations, and your college essay. The deadlines may be the most stressful aspect of the applying process, so procrastinators, take note! To find success with applications you must stay on top of deadlines at all times; colleges don’t want slackers! The common application is also very important, it is more or less your whole high school career on one application. This is the part of the applying process where you list your test scores, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc. This is what you will be showing colleges what you have accomplished these past few years, so don’t forget anything important! The recommendations are just a way of letting colleges know what sort of student you are from a teacher’s perspective. You have the ability to choose any teacher or coach that you think knows best what kind of student you truly are. I recommend choosing a teacher who you have shown true determination, well-maintained grades, and have participated positively in their class. The last part of the applying process is the college essay. The essay gives students the opportunity to show colleges both their writing skills and what has shaped them into who they are today. If there is a range of topics, be sure to choose one that best fits who you are as a person. Also, try not to stray very far from the topic at hand; keep your essay focused on what you are trying to prove or the change that you are trying to develop. Only add the necessary details, omitting anything that could distract from your overall purpose.

I hope these tips come in handy for anyone looking to manage the stress of applying to college! College is right around the corner for all of us so there is no better time to prepare than now. So what are you waiting for? Go do some research, visit a campus, and find out what interests you!

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