The college application season is finally coming to a close, and I, along with every
other high school senior, am leaping for joy. I learned many lessons on this journey
and I want to share them with you in hopes that you can avoid some of the mistakes
1. Interview dates vary. A lot. I was always told that colleges will contact you
about interviews once you have submitted an application. Though this is often the
case, there are some exceptions to the rule. Some colleges, such as MIT, require you
to schedule interview dates far before your application is due. Be sure to research
whether a school recommends interviews, and if so, the deadline by which you must
have your interview completed.
2. Arts supplement dates vary too. For those of you who are artistically inclined
and are planning on submitting an arts supplement, pay attention to arts
supplement deadlines. Often, it aligns with the deadline of the school application,
however this is not always the case! Stanford, for example, requires that you submit
your Arts Supplement, along with your entire application, a month before the
regular deadline. I discovered this just 48 hours before the arts supplement and
application were due and learned a hard lesson. I cannot stress this one enough. Pay
attention to deadlines.
3. Arts supplement requirements. Different schools ask for different
requirements, so be sure to pay attention to the specifics of each school. I chose to
submit a music supplement—some schools allowed audio, while others only
permitted video. The length, type, and number of supplements allowed also varies
depending upon the school; in my case, for example, some requested jazz and
classical pieces, while others had no preference.
4. School requirements. At some schools, such as Brown University, you will find
that certain intended majors require additional essays. I found, for example, that
engineering programs often require additional essays. Just keep this in mind so that
you can manage your time well.
5. Essays. As you know, the Common App is released on August 1 each year. At this
time, you are able to access all essay questions, however, with the use of Guided
Path, you can sometimes access supplemental questions before August 1. I highly
recommend that you take the time to look for supplemental essay questions and get
a start on them during the summer. Even jotting down a few ideas will make the
process go faster. I completed my Common Application essay and got a start on two
supplements during summer break, and it made the application process much
easier. I strongly recommend getting a head start, because once school starts, it is
difficult to balance applications and school.
6. Test dates. Each school has a date before which you must complete the SAT, ACT,
and/or SAT Subject Tests. Just be sure to complete your tests by the early fall, or
better yet, the end of junior year, and you will be set.
There are many tools in Guided Path that are very helpful in the application process.
Using them will work to your advantage, I promise.
Activity Record. Guided Path’s Activity Record can be found under the surveys tab.
This survey is extremely useful, as the Common Application asks you to fill out up to
10 activities and briefly explain them. This will help you to gather your thoughts
before putting them into the Common App. Additionally, by logging your extra
curricular activities in the activity record, you will be able to see the distribution of
your activities—Do you have a wide variety of activities, or are they generally all in
one category? Finally, logging activities in the Activity Record will provide ideas for
essays. Many colleges ask for you to elaborate on an extracurricular activity or work
experience, and the Activity Record is a great place to start.
Course Plan. The course plan is a helpful survey simply because it organizes your
classes and helps you to keep track of what courses you have taken, and which you
still need to take. The ability to enter your grades makes this survey act essentially
like a record of your transcript.
Getting 2 Know U. Coming up with something to write about for the Common
Application was particularly challenging for me, as the prompts are very broad. The
Getting 2 Know U survey gets your brain rolling and ideas flowing. Any question
within this survey is a great place to start when trying to write your Common
Design A College. I find the Design a College survey most useful in organizing my
thoughts. For me, after visiting ten colleges I became unsure as to why I liked a
college. I simply had a general feeling for each school. This survey helped me to
focus on the specifics of a college, and gave me a general idea of my ideal college.
This survey can be used both as a starting point when creating a college list, as well
as a reminder when all of your potential schools begin to blur together.
I hope that these tips were helpful and aid you in your college application process.
Best of luck!