Working Out the Final Kinks of Your Application

Working Out the Final Kinks of Your Application

For those who are applying to Early Decision II and Regular Decision, the end of the festive season marks the start of the tedious process of working out the final kinks to your college application.

By now, you should have had the required blanks in your Common Application filled in, and be close to finishing up the last sentences of your essays. As you go through the editing process, here are some tips that should help:

1. Activities Section 

The Common Application only allow applicants to list 10 principal extracurricular activities and each activity is only given a limited number of characters for a short description. If you find yourself going beyond the character limit, try writing short succinct descriptions, and making use of the additional information section to elaborate on your activities.

Remember, the additional information section isn’t an avenue to pen a 500 word essay on each activity. Summarize the details of the activities and more importantly, its relevance in your personal life into a resume format, which will provide admission officers an interesting and concise read of who you are as an individual.

2. Writing 

(i) Get a close friend or a family member to read your essays. If you find yourself having to explain a certain sentence or phrase to them, it means that you are not expressing yourself succinctly and concisely. If your designated readers, who are supposed to have a better understanding of who you are as an individual, are unable to fully comprehend your essay, it is likely that the admissions officers won’t either. Perhaps another reason why your readers have difficulty understanding your writing is because your essays are jammed with more than one major idea. Work on streamlining your ideas and editing out those ambiguous expressions.

(ii) This brings us to grammar. To fix simple grammatical and spelling errors, writing your essays on a Microsoft Word or Pages document should do the trick. Next, read your essay aloud to check how the essays sound when your readers read them. Not only will reading aloud help you catch some grammatical errors, it also highlights certain repetitive sentence structures that need editing.

(iii) Choosing the right words. In an effort to impress the admission officers, college applicants tend to make the mistake of fitting every possible SAT vocabulary word into the sentences. While it might make you sound smarter, the use of impressive language does take away the actual meaning of the sentence. This problem is made worse when applicants choose to use impressive words or phrases without knowing the context and connotations of those expressions. Choosing the perfect phrasing is difficult, but the use of simpler language may help make the essay more concise and specific.

3.  Remind Your School Counselor and Teachers About the Deadline for Recommendations

The Common Application updates applicants on the current status of their college recommendations. While most colleges are lenient with the deadline for the college recommendations, it is always good (and comforting) to have everything in order before the deadline has past. If you have not received your letters of recommendation from your designated writers, write a short email reminding them of the deadline — and always remember to express your gratitude for their help.

4. The ‘Submit’ Button

College applications are a huge deal, and applicants spend most of the last two weeks editing and revising the application. However, it is never a good idea to put off submitting the application at the very last minute. The Common Application website will likely experience heavy web traffic on the day of the deadline and so, spare yourself of slow loading time or possible downtime that could cause delays in your application. Submit it early!

5. Pat Yourself on the Back

Because you deserve it. You have done quite possibly everything in your power to produce an application that you are satisfied with. Get out of the house and celebrate with friends. Instead of spending the next three months worrying about the admissions decision, use the time to keep your grades up for the impending mid-term report, do a fun sport or activity, and most importantly, enjoy your senior year!

Happy Holidays!