What I Wish I Knew As A Senior
Less than a year ago, I was a high school senior hunched over my laptop, churning out college essay after college essay. Looking back at my process, there are many decisions I’m glad I made, but many more that I wish I had made. Here’s a breakdown of the top three things I wish I knew as a senior so that you don’t have to make the mistakes I did:
1. Apply Early Action
When I first started applying to universities, I had the misconception that I should only apply early to schools I was sure I would go to if admitted. Although this is true of Early Decision (if granted admission, you are required to attend that school), it is not the case with Early Action. This track allows you to be flexible with your final decision and provides two main benefits: showing interest and speeding up the process.
Showing interest: Applying EA shows universities that they are one of your top choices and allows them to compare your application to a smaller pool of perspectives. Unless you are depending on your first-semester senior year grades to boost your GPA, I highly recommend applying EA to as many schools as possible, because it can definitely show the school your interest in them alongside your dedication.
Speeding up the process: As the Early Action deadline is in November, the more applications you submit then, the more time you have the rest of your senior year! This of course means that you would have to get a head start during the summer in order to complete your applications on time, but knowing your choices will give you a lot more time to make a decision before the May 1 deadline.
2. Diversify Your Majors
Unlike most of my peers, I was hard set on what I wanted to pursue early on in high school. As a result, I chose to apply to every school under the same major. While this can be good for consistency purposes, it can also be good to apply to similar majors across schools to improve your chances/try new things. For example, I applied as a Marketing major, but I could have applied as a Business Administration major or an Advertising major. This way, I could have gotten a sense of what subject my application fits best and potentially could have reconsidered what career path is right for me. Applying to vastly different majors like business and engineering on the other hand may not be the best choice as you may lower your chances of acceptance just by choosing a major that doesn’t line up with your experiences. Overall, I recommend applying to “sibling majors”: majors that are similar enough to be siblings but still different enough that they would provide different experiences.
3. Reach Out
One of the most important things I wish I had done was reach out. This could be to college counselors, older students, or even my own friends. While I had my friends proofread my essays and asked for advice from time to time, there were many times I went to the Internet when I needed help. The Internet has plenty of resources but it may not answer questions personal to you. I recommend emailing your counselor with any questions you have to guarantee that your application is the best it can be (while fostering a relationship with them)! Alumni are also a great resource because they have been through the application process firsthand and can help you on a much more individual level. The college application process is lengthy and there are many points in which you can and should ask for help.
First point: College list. The schools you choose to apply to are definitely your choice, but it can always be helpful to ask people who know you well whether they think that school will be a good fit for you based on location, demographics, etc.
Second point: Essays. Supplemental essays are a large portion of your application and it’s great to get multiple opinions on them, but take advice with a grain of salt. Your experiences and thoughts are unique to you, so don’t change ideas that feel right to you. Ask people you really trust to read your essays like family or friends, to make sure that you get honest feedback that you can learn from.
Third point: The Decision. Deciding where you’re going to study for the next four years is by far the most important part of the process. Once again, the final decision is yours, but it may be good to talk to students currently at each school of choice to hear about their experiences.
I am more than happy with where I ended up after my college application process, and I hope that these tips will help you end up with the same outcome. Good luck!