Do you want to go to college?

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Photo courtesy of @wshs22decisions on Instagram

WS has an instagram page that updates with students’ college decisions. The page acknowledges students’ accomplishments and hard work by posting their plans after graduation.

The college application process tests students’ drive, resumé building, essay skills, interpersonal relationships, community service hours, and creativity. As some seniors have pursued this process, their tips and tricks of the trade provide essential knowledge to juniors who will start their college applications in the coming months. 

Although not all students apply to college, the same college application advice can be applied to other endeavors in life, such as jobs and internships. 

The application process is convoluted and asks students to assess and reflect on their previous years of high school. Figuring out where to start and how to organize the application is half the battle. 

“Before starting the application process, decide how you’re presenting yourself to colleges. The best way to do this is to create an elevator pitch— a short statement that answers who you are as a student, what you’re passionate about, and what you hope to accomplish in the future,” said senior Samantha Korff, who is attending William and Mary in the fall. “I presented myself as an involved student who hopes to integrate her passions for intercultural connections and social reform into a career in diplomacy.”

Mapping out different plans, exploring one’s identity, and setting productive goals is a way to help the application process run more smoothly. Since this can be a lengthy and time-consuming process, seniors stress the importance of starting early. 

“The best piece of advice I can give underclassmen applying to college is to start early on applications because the process does take a longer time to complete than one might think,” said senior Sofia Zaidi, who is attending George Washington University in the fall. 

Starting applications in the summer leading up to senior year is a way for juniors to get ahead. At the start of senior year, sports, clubs, and school will compete for time with college applications. Thus, by reviewing and organizing applications in the months leading up to school, students can try to remain as stress-free as possible. 

Another significant aspect of the college application process is the essay section. Students have to write multiple essays, such as the personal statement, supplementary essays, and “why us?” essays. Some schools even include extra prompts they want students to answer. For example, the University of Chicago is known for its out-of-the-box prompts, such as asking people to compare apples and oranges.

Schools are looking for creative responses to their prompts that demonstrate students’ writing abilities, composition, and imagination. But how can a student write an essay that stands out among thousands upon thousands of essays?

“So many applicants write about generic things on their supplemental, study abroad, the school’s location, or popular traditions. Look for the niche programs, activities, and resources that exemplify why you want to go to a certain school,” said Korff. 

To accompany essays, ‘building the perfect resume’ is a notion consistently thrown around during the college admissions process. Figuring out exactly how to build the perfect resume is often where students struggle. 

“If you need to “build” a resume, you are approaching it the wrong way,” said senior Gabriel Cooper, who is attending United States Coast Guard Academy this fall. “Admissions offices are looking for well-rounded individuals that perform well in school and in multiple facets of their life. If you can, volunteer and build quality relationships with professionals in your area. These folks connect you to new opportunities and their experiences will help you go farther in life.”

Although the application process is tedious and stressful, it’s also an exciting process that sparks hopes for the future and allows students to progress on to their next walk of life.