College Applications: 5 Tips to Help You Succeed

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Lauren Maddox
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As an upcoming senior in college, I have started to think about applying to graduate school. This has given me an opportunity to reflect on my first college applications during my senior year of high school. I was a mess! I was stressed out that my grades weren’t high enough, my essays weren’t good enough, I wasn’t involved in enough extra-curricular activities, and I wasn’t going to get into any college of my choice. Whether you’re a high school senior, community college student applying to transfer, or a soon-to-be college graduate looking at graduate schools, you may benefit from these five tips on what I wish I would have known when applying to college the first time.

Submit your materials early

This is your last year to be with friends you’ve established in school and you want to make the most of it. You don’t want to be stressing about not meeting application deadlines. Start the applications early and get them done so that you can have some fun when the end nears.

Recommendation letters need to have a personal touch

Avoid asking for recommendation letters from teachers or professors who don’t know you well. Look for those who have known you for a while and that you might have a relationship with. They will not simply take the recommendation letter they have saved on their desktop and change the name. Instead they will add a personal touch to the letter, which can make a big difference to the application.

Seek “professional” proofreaders

Get more than just your mom or a friend to proof your application essays. English teachers can edit the papers well, and they can help you phrase things that will make you stand out to admissions counselors. Be sure to give your proofreader plenty of time for the review so you can make your changes well before your essays must be submitted.

Do not compare yourself to others

When all your friends are applying to many of the same colleges, it can be easy to talk about what you are putting on the application. Do not compare yourself to others. Just because your friend has 10 more volunteer hours doesn’t mean you aren’t getting into the school you each are applying to.


Yes, applying to college should be taken seriously, but this is also your final year – so have fun! It can be overwhelming, but just take it a step at a time, and you will get it done.

Keep these tips in mind and you will rock your college admission apps. Good luck to all those applying to college!


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