For a lot of colleges, regular decision application deadlines are mere days away. With those deadlines looming at the beginning of January, we’re here with some last minute tips to boost your college application.
Nothing ruins a great college application faster than typos and careless errors. You want admissions officers to believe that you put time, thought, and effort into your application, so make sure to go through it with a fine-toothed comb.
On the Common App, you can view a PDF preview of your application before you submit it. Once your application is ready for submission, click on the “Review and Submit – Common App” section for that school. That means all sections are complete, the Questions section is finished, and your recommendations are in. When you click the red “Review and Submit” button, a PDF of your application will be generated.
Tip: Work with a printed copy of your app – it’s easier to catch errors. Grab your trusty red pen and get to work!
Give the Essay Some Last Minute Polish
The part of your application that you have the most control over is arguably your application essay. This is one area where you can really shine—if you understand what makes a great college essay and put in the time. By now, you should be in the very final stages of revision (if you haven’t already finished). Let your essay simmer for a few days. Don’t look at it. Then, before you’re ready to submit your application, give your essay one last read. Are there some words or phrases you could punch up? Is there an awkwardly phrased sentence you could refine? Are there some extraneous details you could remove?
Double Check on Your Supplementary Materials
Make sure that your test scores and recommendation letters have already been sent and/or confirm that they will be sent before the application deadline. A polite reminder to a beloved teacher might be needed to ensure that glowing recommendation reaches the admissions office in time!
Take a Second Look at Your Activities
Although it’s too late to change your extracurricular activities, it’s not too late to change how you write about them. For example, on the Common App, you have 50 characters to describe your position in the organization and to name the organization; you have 150 characters to describe the activity, your accomplishments, and any recognition you received. You can use these characters to your advantage! Try to include as many details as possible in the position and organization name field. For example, instead of “Member of Drama Club” (20 characters), you could write “Award-winning lead actor, Drama Club” (35 characters). Since you’ve now identified yourself as both a lead actor and an award-winner, you’ve freed up characters in your activity description. Add dimension to your activity description by using active verbs and dynamic word choices.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Second to Submit
Application platforms sometimes have technical glitches, and these problems are most likely to occur right as many schools’ deadlines approach. You don’t want to miss a deadline because a website crashed, so be sure to submit your applications a day or two ahead of time. That way, if there is some sort of technical problem—if your computer randomly gives you the blue screen of death or the Common App website is down—you still have a little bit of cushion before your application needs to be submitted.