4 Last Minute College Application Tips Before You Press Submit!
October 25, 2016
4 Last Minute College Application Tips Before you Press Submit!
College applications require a lot of time, energy, and thought. It is never a good idea to leave all of the work for the last minute, but there are certain parts you should be thinking about as deadlines come up. Before you hit submit, here are some last minute college application tips to help you send the best possible applications you can to your dream schools!
1. Re-read, re-read, re-read your personal statement:
This is probably something you’ve already done, but you should do it once or twice more, even after you think everything is complete. Spelling mistakes, typos, and poor grammar won’t detract from the content of your essays, but these things can make you appear rushed, inattentive, and inconsiderate on your application. Admissions officers expect to see your best work, and they expect it to show college-level writing and editing skills.
Submit a polished application with these last minute college application editing tricks:
- Read out loud. Reading your writing aloud helps you slow down and read each word. This can help you catch missing words or grammatically incorrect phrases.
- Read backward. Start at the end of your essay and read backward by sentence, phrase, or even word. This will help you catch mistakes you’ve been reading right past.
- Check tenses. Do you switch suddenly from past tense to present tense? Make sure you maintain consistency.
- Check subject-verb agreement. For example, if the subject of your sentence is plural (they, we) make sure you use the form of the verb that matches a plural noun or pronoun. Remember “everyone” is a singular pronoun!
- Share your essay with a friend, teacher, or parent, so another person can help catch any editing mistakes.
2. Check your Activities List hours:
The Common Application Activities List asks you to input grade level and hours-per-week for your activities. Simple math often reveals dishonesty or exaggeration to an admissions officer. A last minute college application tip is to add up the hours per school week your list says you commit to activities. Hours over 30 per week are often unbelievable. The most dedicated students might be achieving 35 hours per week of extracurriculars.
Remember, your admission officer understands that a well-rounded and organized student commits time to homework, as well as some personal time to rest and relaxation!
3. The Why This College? Essay:
Many schools include a Common Application supplement question that asks you to describe why you are interested in their college. The worst thing you can do in this essay is be vague. If you’re vague, it sounds like you haven’t researched the school and don’t care enough about the school and your admission there to do so. In these cases, admissions officers might assume that you’re applying to their school because 1) it’s a safety school for you 2) it’s a reach school for you and you’re interested only in the school’s high ranking and fame 3) someone else recommended the school, and you took that person’s advice blindly.
In the first case, you want to be very careful to make sure your safety schools know you are genuinely interested. You don’t want to be turned away because the admissions officers assume you won’t actually attend if admitted. In the second case, you need to justify your interest in that school compared to other high ranking schools. A last minute college application double check: comparative statements between specific schools should not be used in this essay, but you should describe the unique virtue of this school. In the third case mentioned above, you appear lazy or indifferent. Colleges want students who have taken charge of their own education and worked to find the best college options for them. One great way to do this is by using specific facts about each school in the appropriate supplementary essay.
Before you hit submit for each school, double check this essay. Are you writing about the “great athletics,” the “quality of the student life,” the “diversity,” the “engaged professors,” or the “interesting classes in my major” within having specific information on these topics at this school? If your essay is vague, try to find out details about the school that support your larger statements. You can weave these into your essay, even as last minute college application edits, to provide evidential support for your larger points about the “great athletics” or the “engaged professors.”
4. Self-Report Test Scores:
The Common App has space to self-report your test scores. Even if you have new test scores coming in the mail before the deadline, you should fill out this section of the Common App. Many schools start considering applications, even if scores are not received until after the deadline. In most cases, scores that arrive after the deadline will not prevent consideration of your application.
A critical last minute college application reminder: if you’re sending additional scores from a re-test, note this on your application. You can provide a line of information describing the test scores that are on their way, including what test will have updated scores and which exam date you used. That way, admissions officers will know to be on the lookout for your newest and, hopefully, improved SAT or ACT retake.
Many schools use “score selection,” meaning they consider the highest score within a section of the SAT or ACT across different tests. Therefore, if you received a 580 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT and a 720 on the Math section of the SAT during the spring of your Junior year, but a 630 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT and a 700 on the Math section of the SAT in the fall of your senior year, the school will consider 650 on Critical Reading and 720 on Math to be your official score. Therefore, it’s advantageous to update your test scores with tests taken in October (for Early Decision or Early Action deadlines) and in December (for Regular Decision deadlines).
For more last minute editing tips, check out this podcast: