Does Anyone Actually Know How to Apply to College?

Riley Preiss, Editor

As soon as senior year started, scratch that… even before senior year started, people started telling me to start getting my college applications together and  get organized. Like most of my peers I ignored them and decided to wait a week, a month, a summer, a couple more weeks… OH MY GOD IT’S ALMOST OCTOBER! If this sounds like you… welcome to the club. I too am a procrastinator. I too am feeling immensely overwhelmed by the fact that some of my college applications are due in literally one month. “Okay, stop hyperventilating it’s fine you can do it,” is pretty much my thought process every time someone talks about college. As someone going through the process, I’ve discovered it seems as though seniors spend way more of their time talking about the task than actually getting it done. Last week it hit me hard that I am starting to get a bit behind the ball and I decided it was time to get on my “A” game. Here are some useful tips I’ve learned from teachers, counselors, and, like any dutiful college applicant, many, many prepscholar website features.

Through my research and my mother’s obsession with the topic (I’m the oldest child so she’s even more overwhelmed than me) I have discovered that no one really knows how to get into college. Yes, I said it. There is no 100% guarantee that what you are doing will most definitely work. It happens… valedictorians get rejected from their dream schools, some people get into their reach schools and rejected from their safety; no one can really predict what will happen. So now that I’ve made that depressing statement, what do we take away from that? According to an article in The Atlantic, college applicants will have a far harder time securing admission in 2018 than in years past, when getting a 1500 on the SAT and a 3.8 GPA basically guaranteed you a spot in the college of your choice. Admissions systems have changed drastically in the past few decades: for the high-school graduating class of 1991, UPenn accepted nearly half of its applicants. This year it accepted just 8 percent.

Many might see this as a challenge but it can also be beneficial to some. Colleges’ shift away in focus from test scores and GPA might be a nauseating idea for some kids who worked really hard to have the scores that they have today, but it also increases students’ chances of getting in based on their personalities, their essays, and their overall character. Heads up… your guidance counselors aren’t lying when they tell you colleges see everything…keep your Instas clean! When you think about it, you have more control over your role in how you appear to a college than anyone else. What I have gathered from this research is that you have to make it your priority to blow admissions out of the water with the things that make you stand out, showing passion in something, showing you have interests that can add to their school. Another big factor I’ve seen emphasized is if you appear attentive to schools. Visit your top colleges and if you can’t, email those admissions people until they know your name!

What has caused all this change is a question I have seen many angry parents commenting on blogs and even on admissions websites. The answer I can most understand is that there are more students attending college than ever before in the United States. There are also so many resources to assist students in getting their SAT scores up and increased emphasis on extracurricular activities, that it comes down to other things when admissions is trying to figure out their freshman class.  Students are aware of this and so some kids are applying to 10+ schools, which means the number of applicants versus the number of students a college can accept are nowhere near one another. It’s a stressful process, but know that if you have yet to start there’s still time! Start getting your recommendation letters from teachers, go to Guidance and P.O.W.E.R. Time and figure out the mysteries of Naviance and the Common App. Look for the workshops Farmingdale has after school on Mondays and Wednesdays targeting your applications. The major advice I’ve read on prepscholar is simply this: put the time in! I’ve found that it’s hard to figure out what exactly you are doing if you simply stare at your computer screen at home. You need to ask for help from the people in your life that are here to assist you… just walking into school every day gives you about twenty options, use them! Good luck to everyone with your applications and if anyone has the answer and knows exactly how to apply to college, feel free to let me know! (I’m asking for a friend I swear.)


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license