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Application tips and tricks:

Knowing “the tricks” can only get you so far.  You’re always better off being yourself than trying to beat the system.  For instance, applying to a program that’s considered “easier to get into”, rather than the one that you’re truly interested in, can backfire.  So think of the following as insider tips rather than tricks.


  • Keep your mouth shut about where you’re applying.  Too many applicants from your high school cuts down your chances of being accepted.


  • Let the colleges know you’re really interested.  Make personal connections with the college representative for your school and keep in touch.  Many colleges consider “demonstrated interest” when making decisions.
  • Send a thank you note after interviews, visits, or if an admissions officer has been extremely helpful.  You’ll get your name in front of them again.  When they’re reading your application they’ll feel as if they know you.


  • Go beyond the brochure, website, and info session when answering a “why this college?” essay.  Do research and find out things that relate specifically to your goals.  Show the college that you’re a great match.


  • Market yourself!  If you do something special (art, music, photography) send a sample of your work.


  • Submit additional information if necessary.  If you have a special circumstance (e.g. a disability, parent’s divorce, death in the family, etc) that has affected your high school record, let the college know.


  • Proofread your application.  Careless mistakes show a lack of attention to detail, which is the last impression you want to give to an admission committee.


  • Practice for interviews.  This will make you less nervous and better prepared.


  • If you don’t need financial aid, let the college know.



Create a Professional Email Address:

Do you really want to send applications to college admissions officers the very people you are trying to impress from your ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ email address? Didn’t think so.


Drop this book right now and register for a new and improved email address with a formal ID.  Check out Yahoo, MSN, and Gmail for free email accounts.  Once it’s all set up, use this email address specifically for anything related to your college search, for college fairs,. At admissions and scholarships, everything!  That way, you can keep all of your correspondence with admissions departments and references organized. 


When you create your new account, use your name or initials.  If you can’t use your name alone because its already been used, try including your middle initial somehow or the year of your graduation, like [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]





Pet Peeves of College Admissions Officers:

You never know what could make an admissions officer banish your application to the reject pile.


 But these are some sure fire ways to get rejected:


  • Late Application
  • Sloppy/illegible handwriting, how can they evaluate something if they can’t read it?
  • Incomplete applications or forgetting to forward high school transcripts.
  • Plagiarism
  • Endless essays.  Straying a bit from the word count is OK, but a 10-page essay is a definite no-no.
  • Typos and grammatical errors.
  • Fluorescent paper and other obvious attempts to stand out.
  • Using pencil or red or scented ink.
  • Too many recommendation letters; two or three are sufficient; twenty is going overboard.
  • Unsolicited videotapes and other media products when there’s no time to view them.


On the other hand, here are some things that make admissions officers smile:


  • Students that follow directions; sending only requested materials and answering each essay question to the best of your ability. 
  • An application with personality; they want to feel as though they know you after they’ve read it.
  • Glowing and personalized letters of recommendation.
  • Essays that reflect a student’s passions, interests, or personality.
  • Students who know why they want to attend a particular college, and it’s not just because it has a “big name”.
  • Follow up calls to ensure that all application materials have arrived thank you letters



Different Types of Applications

  • Early Decision = Locked in –Binding Commitment
  • Can only apply early decision to ONE college. May apply to other colleges through the regular admission process.
  • Your child agrees to attend the college if it accepts him/her.
  • Early Action = not locked in – non-binding commitment
  • Can choose to commit to the college immediately or wait until the spring.
  • Can also apply as an “early action” to other colleges.
  • Rolling Admissions
  • No specific deadline, applications are reviewed as they are received.
  • Financial Aid & housing may be doled out on a first-come, first served basis.
  • Open Admissions
  • A policy that permits enrollment of a student in a college without regard to academic qualifications.
  • Ex. Community colleges
  • Notification
  • Early action/early decision by November, end of December at the latest.
  • Decision Time
  • At the absolute latest, May