Senior College Advice
By Megan Everson '21 and Esha Manchanda '21
Part One (By Megan)
If you haven’t figured it out yet, you will soon enough: applying to college is kind of a lot of work. It’s a lot of essay-writing, resume-crafting, and hours of editing all of the above. I only actually hit submit on two applications, but I filled out applications for seven schools total.
I only submitted two applications because I applied Early Decision to my top school. If you don’t know, Early Decision (or ED) is different from regular decision in a couple of ways: the deadlines are earlier and you make a binding commitment to the school when you apply. Instead of having applications due in January, they’re usually due in November and you find out the results of your application by late December. When you apply ED, you make a binding commitment to the school that if accepted, you will attend their university for the upcoming school year (there’s a little more nuance than that, but that’s the general idea). It’s definitely a big deal, so make sure that if you apply ED you are 100% confident that the school is your #1 choice. You can also apply to schools Early Action, which means that you apply on the same timeline as ED, but you don’t have the legally-binding decision. EA specifics really vary by schools, so make sure to look into that when you’re applying!
Anyways, even though I was accepted into my ED school, I still chose to fill out my other applications because I would’ve had essentially a two week turnaround period to write essays for 7 schools. Even though it sounds tempting to not work on your backup applications until you hear back from your first choice school, DON’T DO IT. Seriously, start your applications as soon as you can. I started writing outlines and planning out my responses to my schools’ supplemental questions in August when they came out (before I even knew where I wanted to ED) and I’m so glad I did because once Viz started back up I would not have had the energy to write those essays all at once. Take advantage of your time off and put a little bit of work into your college stuff. Even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes a week, your future self will definitely thank you.
Also start brainstorming personal statement ideas as you go! I kept a note in my phone of essay ideas that I started junior year after my first college advisory and it was super helpful for writing my essays. Something else you can do early is make sure to keep track of your activities. My mom actually recommended this to me freshman year, but it was super helpful so I’ll share it with you guys: keep a document/spreadsheet with all extra-curricular activities you do, the date it starts, the date it ends, grade you did it in, and any awards you won for it. Trust me, it will make filling out resumes so much easier.
Applying to college isn’t necessarily a fun process, but if you manage your time and work on stuff a little bit every day, I promise it won’t be nearly as painful. Use your resources, do your research, put in the work, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You got this and I believe in you!
Part Two (By Esha)
Juniors. This is for you. Now, if you're in the same boat as I was, you don't have any older siblings… meaning you have minimal knowledge about the college process. Now I know college advisory is starting to meet, but most of you probably have no idea what to write for your college essays, which schools to use Common App for, or simply how to start. College advisory definitely gets you started on this process, but advice from someone who's applied to far too many schools might help.
Let's start off with the Common App. I would definitely recommend completing the "Common App" tab over the summer. This is where your profile, family, education, and other basic information goes. You'll already be ahead of the game if you do this, I highly recommend. There's also a "writing" tab in the Common App. You might not get through completing the essay, but it might help to attend a college essay webinar. I used "The College Essay Guy," anything else works well too.
Moving onto writing supplements. For the colleges you apply through the Common App, they all receive the main essay that you write. But, most colleges also require or recommend to complete additional supplemental essays that vary between 100-700 words in length (usually). Once you add colleges to your Common App, there will be subsections in each college, where you can find your supplements. When I applied, I created a Google Docs with ALL of the supplements and labeled them under each college. I highly recommend doing this!! Some essays will also overlap, so you can use the same one for a couple different colleges, but you might have to switch some wording up to fit the exact prompt.
My final advice is to look up deadlines on the actual college site. Naviance sometimes does not have the updated deadlines (especially because of COVID), which can throw you for a loop. Nothing against Naviance though. I also created a chart in Google Docs that had all this information.
This process is long and grueling but it feels very relieving once everything is over. This whole process makes sense in the end even if it doesn’t make sense now. Good luck!