College Application Tips from a San Diego Admissions Consultant

This time of year seniors are well into their college application process. Most college applications are due in December, which is just around the corner. This process is daunting for students and parents alike. Successfully completing this journey will require a college entrance essay, SAT or ACT scores, recommendations from teachers and, for some, applying for financial aid or scholarships.

irvine-college-consultantThe College Entrance Essay

Students will either write an essay from the Common Application or another essay from a prompt provided by colleges and universities that don’t use the Common Application. The essay should be unique, original, honest and genuine. The essay should also be well written and contain no grammar or spelling errors. The structure and flow of the essay should be appropriate and easy to follow (READ: Ask a Nerd! ‘How should I start my college admissions essay?'”).

Students often find it hard to write about themselves and leave the essay until the last minute. This decision can lead to problematic stress, late nights writing and rewriting, and possibly a low quality essay. A better way to conquer the essay is to plan to write a few drafts rather than strive for perfection the first time around. Once a first draft is achieved it can be edited for content and flow, either by the student or an Orange County English tutor.

SAT and ACT Scores

For students who are currently seniors, final SAT and ACT scores should be in very soon. Most seniors already have their scores by this time. All applicants to US schools should make sure that their highest score is sent to the colleges that they are applying to.

Recommendations from Teachers

Students should also be asking their teachers for recommendations by this time of year. In order to produce a well written and well thought out recommendation, teachers need some time. Seniors should not expect to receive their requested recommendations back in less than two weeks minimum (READ: “The Best Way to Ask For a Letter of Recommendation“). Teachers have many responsibilities and are not required to write recommendations so it is important to respect their time and efforts. Students are often nervous to ask their teachers for recommendations but the worst that can happen is a rejection. However, sometimes students are turned down and thus it is a good idea to ask multiple teachers for recommendations. It is important that the students received a high grade in the teacher’s class and that they have had a chance to talk with the teacher on several occasions so that s/he will have something original and genuine to write about.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Students who absolutely need a scholarship should apply for several. Scholarships can come directly from the university or from an outside source. Some students will receive one, large, scholarship but these are highly competitive so applicants should also consider researching smaller scholarships that can be combined to pay a larger portion of the tuition. The financial aid process is also an arduous one and students who need help should start by arranging an appointment with their college counselor. Financial aid can come from the university directly or from private and government agencies not related to the school. Students who require financial aid should start their research ASAP in order to secure funding prior to the start of the fall 2015 term.

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