Monthly Archives: April 2017

girl thinking about college application essays

Just how important is a college application essay?

School admission officers take into account several important factors in selecting which students to admit. These include your grades and test scores. What about college application essays?

According to higher education consultants, as more and more people are going to college, the playing field becomes more competitive and every little advantage you gain can go a long way in improving your chances of getting into the school you are targeting. Quite simply, a good college application essay can help you stand out among other applicants.

Qualities of a good application essay

One of the key mistakes applicants make is to think of the essay as a minor requirement. This thinking leads them to allocate a minimal amount of resources toward essay writing.

The truth is that writing a college application essay that will wow admission officers takes much time and effort.

There are several qualities that college applications that stand out share.

Avoid trying to impress your readers to the point that you make up stories. In short, be honest.

Remember that the people who will be reading your paper will have to read other papers, too. Although most schools do not impose an upper limit in terms of word count, make your essay reasonably short without sacrificing quality.

Your goal is to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Instead of focusing on your activities and interests, offer the readers an insight into your mind.

Humor, when used tastefully and subtly, can enthrall readers. Some opt to focus on controversial topics to make their essays stand out. Remember, colleges and universities emphasize critical thinking. However, avoid going overboard and subscribing to extremes.

Remove the fluff and focus on a few key points which highlight the qualities that will make you a good fit for the school. Removing the inessential will give your essay more focus and coherence.

If you are going to mention facts and figures, make sure that you check the accuracy of these.

Good college application essays strive to tell compelling stories. In order to do that, you will need to provide pertinent details.

Writing tips to help wow your readers

Awareness of the qualities of good college application essays will help you in crafting your paper and minimize errors which can ruin your chances of getting admitted to the college or university of your choice.

But apart from these, there are a few helpful tips that you should follow.

Start ASAP
Starting at the soonest possible time will help you achieve a few key benefits. First, you will have ample time to pick a suitable topic and conduct thorough research.

Second, you can write at a comfortable pace. When you write at a hurried pace, the quality of your paper can take a nosedive.

Third, you will have ample time for self-editing and you can ask other people to check your work. You will also gain more time to implement the changes recommended by the people you trust.

Choose your topic carefully
Your choice of topic can either boost your chances of getting admitted or get your application rejected.

As much as possible, avoid topics that show you lack judgment or maturity. On the converse side of the coin, avoid playing it too safe as this can leave an impression that you are boring.

Avoid topics which are too personal, those that detail bad judgment on your part, or those that make you look cocky.

Some students gamble with controversial topics. Handled correctly, these topics can impress readers, especially if you show off your critical thinking skills. If you opt for this route, avoid making your essay look like a long-winded rant. Balance your ideas with facts and be objective by highlighting a few important details about the other side of the argument.

Be conversational
Think of your essay as a means to talk to your readers. Write as if you are talking in front of someone.

In turn, this will allow your writing to flow naturally. Plus, the college admissions officers can get to know you better.

The easiest way to be conversational in your writing is to use the first person perspective. This can also give your paper a good measure of authenticity.

Tell your story
Instead of straining to impress your readers, focus on the story that you want to tell. College admission officers are looking for both authenticity and critical thinking. And you won’t be able to show these if you are trying too hard to tell a story that you are only vaguely familiar with.

Draw inspiration from the success of others
Another reason why you should start writing your essay early is to give you enough time for research. During your research, look for examples of high-quality essays and look for the things that worked for the advantage of the writers.

Pay attention to details
If you have been applying to several learning institutions and if you have written a few essays before, writing another one may lead you to believe that the instructions are all the same.

Do not fall into this trap. Read and reread the instructions and follow these closely. The minor details you may have missed can haunt you later on.

Have someone else check your paper
Do not rely on a spell-checker to catch simple typos, punctuation errors and grammatical mistakes. Read and reread your essay and then ask someone else to go over it, preferably someone with proofreading or college essay editing skills.

Why ask someone else to go over your work? As you read and edit your essay for a few times, you may gloss over the mistakes that you thought you have already caught and corrected. Fresh eyes can easily catch those mistakes for you.

Writing a college application paper is no simple task. But with proper preparation, attention to detail, and patience, you can craft a college application essay that will help increase your chances of getting admitted to your dream school.

Your choice of college or university is a decision that should not be taken lightly.

Although there are some studies which indicate that your choice of school does not necessarily affect your ability to earn more in the future, getting into top colleges and universities can influence your success later in life.

Before making a choice

Many high school students have already made a shortlist of possible schools even before the time for application rolls in. Some base their choices on the prestige of the schools. Others choose colleges and universities based upon the quality of programs these offer. Still, there are some who target specific universities and colleges because they know someone who has studied there, a loved one or a friend, perhaps.

If you have not yet decided which school to go to, the soonest that you resolve that matter, the better.

How exactly do you go about finding the right college or university?

One of the key mistakes students often make, one that you should avoid, is grouping schools into two categories: your top or first choice and the rest. According to top higher education consultants, the correct mindset to get into when selecting which school to go to is to make a list of schools that you would be happy to get into.


First, you are likely to change your first choice over a given period of time. And even if you are lucky to get into your first choice, it is possible that you might transfer to another school after spending a semester or more in your original school.

Second, if you categorize your choice of schools between your first choice and the rest, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment should you fail to get into your top choice. If you are unhappy with your remaining choices, you are more likely to face problems later on.

Criteria for school selection

How do you create a list of schools that you will be happy to get into? Here are some helpful tips.

Don’t be drawn by the allure of the name or prestige
That does not necessarily mean that you should avoid well-known and prestigious school. Include these in your shortlist. However, beyond the brand and prestige, you should also base your choice of schools on what you actually want. And in order to do that, you have to do extensive research.

Identifying your needs

Each student has his or her own set of values and needs. Some students will choose a school due to proximity to their homes. Others will even travel abroad for their education. What is crucial here is to establish what your needs are as soon as possible.

Location is not just about the proximity of the school from where you currently live. Beyond that, location can mean other things like the climate and the ambience. And although these have no direct impact on your academics, remember that you will be living in an area for the most part of the year.

School size
Would you prefer to study in a school with a limited number of students per class or you would you rather get into a large school with a large campus with plenty of activities and services to choose from?

Like it or not, college education can cost a small fortune. On top of your tuition fee, you will also have to factor other expenses like school supplies, food, and board and lodging.

Do not focus on a handful of schools
Again, your choice of schools to apply for can change. Perhaps you might uncover something during your research or school visit. Or maybe you simply do not like the climate in one of your school choices. The crucial thing to remember is to be flexible with your choices and avoid being enamored with a limited number of colleges and universities.

Getting into your university of choice

Once you have compiled a shortlist of colleges and universities that you would be happy to get into, you can now focus your time and energy toward making a successful application.

Send your application ASAP
One of the mistakes that you should avoid is waiting until the deadline for application is near. Remember, the school staff tasked with overseeing applications will be swamped and overwhelmed. Also, if you wait until the final hour to turn in your application, it is highly likely that you will turn in sloppy work.

Strive to get good grades
If you are eyeing to get into a highly selective school, low grades won’t make the cut. Getting Cs does not automatically put you out of contention. However, you have to stand out in a field of other good students.

Focus on activities that actually interest you
Instead of signing up for different clubs, choose the ones that interest you the most. That will help you enjoy these activities and make you stand out. Remember, colleges and universities are looking for students who can make a substantial impact.

Have someone look over your essay
Enlist the help of someone you trust, like a teacher, counsellor or even professionals who edit essays. Other people can provide invaluable insights on how to improve your work and even catch some errors you may have missed.

Do not get yourself hobbled with minor details. Let your focus zero in on the content of your essay and the story that you want to tell.

Show them that you are interested

Showing the schools that you are applying for that you are genuinely interested will boost your chances of getting accepted and will allow you to avoid getting waitlisted.

Do your research. Visit the schools. Reach out to professors. And then send supplemental essays about these.

Take everything seriously
There may be requirements that are listed optional during the application process. Instead of thinking that you can get away by not turning in these requirements, show interest and boost your chance of success by fulfilling these optional requirements.

Are you a junior or senior high school student and your life is constantly bombarded with questions on finding the right college for you?

These questions can range from where you’re going to college to how you’ll be able to afford tertiary education to your choice of major, and much more. All these can be overwhelming especially when combined with everything else that you still need to do while in high school.

That’s all part of the process – a very short but significant phase that can help steer you toward your goals. Everything you need to do during this time will definitely serve as a good test run for college life, and beyond.

Needless to say your college admissions journey can be very stressful but all that is manageable with proper preparation. Here are 10 helpful steps you can take when you’re getting ready to apply for college.

1. Create a solid list of universities or colleges to apply for early.

Determine which schools offer the courses that you truly want to study so you can review their admissions requirements and other pertinent details, such as how much it will cost you to study there. Also, prepare for a school visit to narrow down your top picks. Working with an academic advisor or a college admissions consultant can help you obtain information about the schools you’re considering and even those you don’t know about that have a good program for the courses you wish to take.

2. List all the documents you need for application.

Though you may want to take the digital application route, you will still need other papers to fill up, file and submit such as your recommendation letters, essays, transcripts and other forms. With a list of document requirements for each university or course, it will be easier to stay organized when mailing your documents to your target schools.

3. Grow your knowledge even more.

Don’t just focus on getting good grades in school, make sure that you’re actually learning and retaining relevant, actionable information. Make studying a daily habit, read your lessons, and take the time to do practice tests. Basically, make the effort to increase what you know that would prove valuable when you take the SAT and ACT.

4. Understand yourself better.

This will help you greatly when you write your essay and present yourself in interviews. You want to make sure that you’re presenting your authentic best self and you’re not just targeting to impress. Universities often look for more than grades and accomplishments. They place importance on the interests, values and plans of applicants as well, so examine yourself and get a better sense of who and what you are.

5. Build up on valuable experiences.

Volunteer work and part-time job experiences will add weight to your college application process. Volunteering, particularly, can be the perfect demonstration of your involvement in your community, your ability to manage your time well, and that you’re actually a well-rounded person. Your school may have volunteer programs that you can sign up for. You may also check with your city hall to learn about community services that can use your help.

6. Form a support group.

Family, friends, relatives, classmates and other groups you belong to such as your church or community organization rallying behind you will be a huge help. Creating a support group will ensure you’re always on top of the things that you need to do. They can remind you of important dates or schedules, provide you the encouragement you need to keep on going even when things are stressful and difficult. Your parents can even make sure that you always have the food and vitamins you need to support your physically and mentally demanding responsibilities.

7. Practice for your interviews.

When the time comes for an interview, you want to make sure that you already know what your replies should be and what you should sound like. You don’t want to sound like you memorized everything (even if you did). Get someone to ask you all kinds of questions to help you prepare for the impromptu speeches you will make for interviews.

8. Invest in services that can boost the quality of your essays.

This is very useful especially if writing is not your strongest suit. College essay editing services will assess the quality of your essay and ascertain that it is free from typographical and grammatical errors, which can make you come off as a sloppy person, or someone who still doesn’t have a good command of the English language.

9. Apply for a scholarship.

This is particularly important not only in taking care of the cost of college education but also in motivating you to work as hard as you can in high school. If you’re interested in expanding your horizons and feel that you’re qualified, you may also want to consider applying for scholarships abroad.

10. Create your backup plan.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, right? Having a backup plan for when things don’t turn out the way you want them to can provide you a sense of certainty about the future. College consulting services can provide you access to an organized system that will cover every step of the way as you develop your application timeline, plan your extracurricular activities and internships, practice for tests, prepare for campus visit and interviews, and more. Your applications will be fully supervised, making the process more focused and efficient.

College applications can be stressful, but it can also be meaningful, fun and in the end, successful with careful planning and strategic thinking. Enjoy your journey!