The Biggest DOs and DON’Ts of College Admissions

The Biggest DOs and DON’Ts

of College Admissions

 

The college admissions process is lengthy and intimidating. Each week, we dissect a question or subject that we get asked about frequently. This week, we're bringing you the quick & dirty DOs and DONTs of college admissions.

 

DO keep your options open and apply to a balanced list of schools.

In a perfect world, you could apply to your dream school, get in, and call it a day. Sadly, the world isn’t perfect! Your finished college list should contain three to four reach schools, four to five target schools, and two to three likely schools. Read our blog about creating a balanced college list here.

DON’T apply to every school you can.

It can be tempting to apply to every school your friends and classmates are applying to – after all, that means more options… right? Jordanna Suriani disagrees in this piece for the New York Times. She says that applying to dozens of colleges is indicative of a larger issue: that students don’t really know what they want in a school. When it’s time for students to make a final decision, they’re more torn than ever.

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DO demonstrate interest – especially if the school takes it into consideration!

“Demonstrated interest” is exactly what it sounds like: showing the college that you’re serious about attending their institution and going the extra mile to prove it. In a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, half of all schools place moderate to high importance on an applicant’s demonstrated interest! Learn how to find out if your school considers demonstrated interest here, and then read more about demonstrating interest in our blog post here!

DON’T bombard admissions reps with phone calls and emails.

When it comes to contacting your admissions representative, think quality over quantity. You will not make a good impression if you’re reaching out every week to ask questions you could answer yourself by reading the school’s website. Make sure your contacts are meaningful and important, and you aren’t reaching out just for the sake of reaching out.

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DOs and DONTs of college admissions

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DO ask your parents for advice, proofreading, and help as needed.

Your parents have a lot of life experience and want the best for you, so they’re a great resource during this crazy time. Ask them for help researching schools, planning campus visits, and making your college list. Take advantage of a second set of eyes on your application and essay. Get some guidance when it comes to figuring out loans and financial aid. Parents, learn more about how to help here!

DON’T expect your parents to do the work for you.

You are going to be attending the college, not your parents. Don’t expect them to write your essay, keep track of deadlines and due dates, or schedule your campus visits. They can assist you, but they shouldn’t be doing the heavy lifting.

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DOs and DONTs of college admissions

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DO read and re-read all instructions and meet all deadlines.

It’s not a good look to submit application materials that aren’t complete, or to submit them after the posted deadline. Read and re-read all of the directions – this is crucial because different schools ask for different things – and make sure you’re submitting everything they ask for, and nothing superfluous. Mark deadlines on your calendar, make alarms in your phone, tape them to your bathroom mirror… do whatever you need to do to stay organized and timely!

DON’T pull all-nighters!

Give yourself plenty of time to get everything completed and double-checked before the deadline. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re forced to pull an all-nighter to finish your application or essay. If you throw your application together last minute, it will show – and it’s much too important for that.

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DO narrow down large college lists.

Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to college lists. Take your time to narrow down large college lists (anything over ten schools) so you can focus your time and energy on schools that really fit.

DON’T write off schools without doing your research.

Don’t assume that you can’t afford a school or wouldn’t get into a school without doing your research. You might write off a school that could be a perfect fit, just because you weren’t properly informed.

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DOs and DONTs of college admissions

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DO apply Early Decision or Early Action to your first choice.

Applying Early Decision or Early Action can help reduce the stress of college admissions time. If you have one dream school, Early Decision can be the way to go. If you love a particular school but want to keep your options open, Early Action might be the best route for you. Keep in mind that Early Decision and Early Action applications are due earlier than most, so you’ll have to be prepared! Read more about the pros and cons of Early Decision and Early Action here.

DON’T put all your eggs in one basket.

Just because you have one or two top choices doesn’t mean you’ll end up at one of those. Sure, a rejection would be disappointing… but trust us, it’ll be much more stressful if you don’t have a back up. Prepare applications for other schools, even if you’re applying ED or EA.

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DOs and DONTs of college admissions

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