If you are a high school junior or senior and planning on attending college, filling out college applications is inevitable. However, the process doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one and there are some tips that could ease your mind.
“Nightmare” college application scenarios do not have to exist and, if they do, they can be restricted to only your dreams.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, between 2004 and 2014, almost 14 million job openings are projected to be ﬁlled by workers who have a bachelor’s or higher degree and who are entering an occupation for the ﬁrst time. This push for degrees might imply a push to complete college applications—lots of them.
What should you know before you type your first character or put your pen to the paper?
Computers crash. You already know this. Remember the last time you were nearing completion of your high school paper on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and all of a sudden a blue screen glared at you? Yes, bad. Since you are already aware of the dreaded blue screen, you also probably know about Trojans and other nasty viruses and malware. Take action. Back up your work constantly. If you have a Mac, try Time Machine. Anyone (PC or Mac users) can use Dropbox to protect and save their work, and it can be accessed from multiple devices. It is even free, up to 2 GBs, and you can earn up to 18 GBs with referrals. Google Drive is another smart option. Whatever app or product you select, use it! There is nothing worse than spilling that sweet tea on your keypad and knowing that all of the work you have completed on your college application was lost forever.
Hitting enter too quickly. Slow it down! Rushing when filling out a college application is one of the worst things you can do. If you are in a hurry, click “save and continue” instead of submitting an application that you haven’t taken the time to properly review. If you find that caffeinated substances like coffee or Mountain Dew make you too hyper or cause you to rush too much then maybe you should switch to decaf tea or the best standby, a glass of water. When you rush, you may make mistakes that you cannot go back and fix so it’s better to take a deep breath and plan on filling out your college applications when you aren’t in such a hurry.
Then there is the possibility of sending the wrong application to the wrong school. Yikes! In order to head off such a potential disaster, label your Word docs accurately. If you are sending application essays to Duke, Yale or M.I.T., then save each Word doc accordingly and label them as each school’s name. Doubling check attachments or uploads can quickly catch any mistakes that might occur. You may even want to think about using The Common Application. It is a non-profit organization that allows you to submit one admissions application (online and printed) to any of its 488 member schools.
Schedule some time into your planner and take a few hours on the weekend that you would normally spend socializing to complete your college apps the right way. Then you will not have to deal with major application catastrophes—fingers crossed.
Spell check. Hate to break it to you but spell check is not a spelling god. While it is great at catching some grammatical and spelling errors and you should use it to review any Word documents you will be attaching or copying and pasting into college applications, you need to closely reread your application multiple times to make sure there are no glaring mistakes. Better yet, if you have a grammar policeman or woman in your family, have him or her read over your essay and point out mistakes. Sometimes a different pair of eyes is all that is needed to ensure a quality application.
Applying to colleges and filing out applications can be an exciting time in your high school years. Don’t let a few avoidable mistakes prevent you from executing a killer college application.