April is traditionally the time of year when most high school and college seniors get their acceptance letters to the colleges and graduate schools that they applied to. I thought this would be a good time to think about next year’s class of seniors and offer some advice to help them through the admissions process. Anyone who has applied to college or graduate school knows that it can be quite the stressful ordeal. Here are several ways to make the process as seamless as possible:
- Set up a budget: It can cost as much as $100 just to apply to a school. If you’re planning on applying to 5 schools, that’s $500 right there. In addition, you might have to take the SATs, SAT IIs, GREs, which could cost hundreds of dollars as well. If you are planning on taking college tours, remember to add in travel costs in your budget.
- Do your prep work: When it comes time to apply for college or graduate school, you’ll feel much better knowing that you have great scores to accompany all of your application materials. This means, it might be a good idea to do some prep work beforehand. For example, if you are applying to business school, take a GMAT prep course beforehand. A high score may mean the difference in getting that acceptance letter.
- Get Good Recommendations: A cookie-cutter recommendation won’t get you anywhere. That’s why it’s so important to get people who actually know you and can speak to your achievements. This will allow you to shine where you can’t elsewhere on your application. Obviously, you’ll want to go with professors and teachers who you worked with in the past, but don’t be afraid to look at your previous employers and people you worked with in volunteerism or other endeavors who can speak to your character.
- Fine Tune that Personal Statement: This is your one chance to speak from the heart. Unfortunately, Admissions officers have so many applications to look at that they can’t really examine every detail about you to make a decision. They will read your personal statement though. This is where you can highlight any achievements you have or reasons why you would be an asset to the university.
- Ask the Smartest People You Know: When it comes to applying for a school, it can be tough to figure out where you want to apply for. This is the best time to consult the people in your life who you trust. Your parents are the first place you’ll want to go, but it’s not a bad idea to consult with teachers and others in the industry you’re shooting for as well. In addition, if you know people who have graduated from that institution, they should be consulted as well.
The application deadline will be here before you know it. Follow these tips, and you should be on the fast track to the school of your choice.