10 pieces of college application advice you really need to hear
Rajsi Rana is one of our Indian and Trinity College ambassadors. She attended an American-style high school in India and is now studying Computer Science and Business in Dublin. In this blog, she offers up 10 things to consider when applying for college…
They say practice makes perfect, but what do you do in situations you can’t practice for? Come January each year, while the rest of the world is busy celebrating a new year, the entire population of graduating high school seniors are losing sleep over the fast approaching college admission deadlines. They should be rejoicing but many are instead wondering if they are mature enough to make such a life-altering decision when they still have to sing the alphabet to see what letter comes next… Or is that just me?!
Well, let me start by reassuring you that all of you – from the clueless to the not so clueless, but still equally worried people – you are all amazing and unique! College life might now just feel like an obvious next step, but it also has the potential to be one of the most exciting chapters of your life, so don’t lose sleep worrying about it! There are however some things that you should do…
1. Start early
It’s worth taking some time to get organised, it’ll make the whole process easier when the time to submit applications arrives. My advice is to start early; create a spreadsheet of all your requirements, and compile a list of goals to check off. Maybe you need a letter of recommendation from your teachers or counsellors? These things are best not left to the last minute, so find out what you need and enjoy checking each task off your list.
Opening up to your teachers will help you clarify your goals, and chart a clear path to how you can achieve them.
Throw away any preconceived notions of institutions and courses that you might have and get down to some serious research. And by research I mean really, really research! Read up all that you possibly can, the web is full of resources to help you!
The purpose of this exercise should be to find colleges that interest you (also take a look at point six). From these, try to create a list that you think could be an good ‘fit’ for your needs. Try asking yourself how you would feel about living in another city or country. Find out more about country-specific scholarships in prestigious colleges for courses that you want to do. You’ll never know unless you research!
3. Talk to your seniors
People who have been through similar experiences can not only be a great source of inspiration to keep you motivated, but can also provide a fresh perspective on problems and answers to many questions that you might have. Talk to them!
Be engaging, introspective and intelligent; showcase what makes you unique.
4. Discuss options with your teachers
The people who have taught you know your potential well. They wish only the best for you and often have access to a wealth of college and career information. Opening up to your teachers will help you clarify your goals, and chart a clear path to how you can achieve them.
5. Don’t rush your admission essay
The essay is arguably the most important part of your application process; it’s also a chance to express yourself in your own words. It tells the admission officers what cannot be read from your résumé. It tells them what you as a person can offer to the college. It is probably the only chance you have to tell your story, so make it count. Be engaging, introspective and intelligent. Showcase what makes you unique, and why you would fit in perfectly with their college culture. In my experience, it’s best to avoid getting too personal, and stay away from the 4Ds: Drugs, Divorce, Death and Depression. Also, don’t talk about something that happened to someone you know; this is about you and your experiences!
6. The art of introspection
College is a time when you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. You will discover things you love during this journey, and the only way to make most of this is if you realise what really matters to you. You might want to go to a school with a great drama programme and a great science programme, and that’s perfectly alright! Get to know yourself now, consider what you truly value, and you will thank yourself for the path that you’ll open up for your future.
Do proofread everything especially if you’re recycling essays – a friend of mine told Yale how Dartmouth was the perfect fit for them, obviously that didn’t end too well!
7. Keep your grades up
I know about how senioritis can take over but staying focused on school is more important now than ever. Slacking off and attending every party might seem like fun ( it probably even is) but believe in delayed gratification. Trust me it will be worth it!
8. Proofread, but don’t over read
I can understand how your parents and siblings might want to go over your essays but please do not let them take over. It should be your voice, not theirs. Do proofread everything especially if you’re recycling essays (a friend of mine told Yale how Dartmouth was the perfect fit for them, obviously that didn’t end too well!) but, don’t let anyone alter your voice.
9. Be excited
Realise that the best part of your life is yet to come and while it is okay to be overwhelmed by everything at this stage, everything is going to be fine. Don’t panic!
Eat as much home cooked food as you possibly can…You’re definitely going to miss it next year!
Do you want to study in Ireland? Check out the Education in Ireland website for all the info you need.