Steps to Success: seniors reflect on the admission process

In the midst of the college application process, seniors lend advice about writing supplements, staying genuine while standing out and getting excited about their futures.

To minimize stress once senior year begins, starting the process as early as possible is the optimal method. Steps as small as setting up your Common or Coalition Application profile over the summer or researching schools and getting an idea of what your college list will look like come November can be paramount in decreasing stress and providing direction to your applications.

When compiling your college list, gauging and prioritizing your must-haves are crucial. More than any other time, applying to college is the time to listen to yourself and block out any outside pressures or expectations about where to apply or what to study. It is all about finding the right fit, somewhere that aligns with your needs and abilities.  

“I really don’t think you should focus on expectations or outside opinions,” says Kentiaus Charlery, who is applying to 19 colleges. “You should focus on yourself and finding the best fit for you.”

When writing supplemental essays, the cardinal priority is to give the admissions officers a genuine image of who you are as a person, not just boasting about achievements. Yes, being the captain of a sport or leader of a club is a great part of your application, but if you really dig deep into how or why these activities made you who you are, it will really make you stand out in the eyes of admissions officers.

In managing tedious supplemental essays, senior David Hill advises to spread out your time in order to minimize stress. “For the schools with supplements, I completed a rough draft for each school, then worked on revisions over the course of a couple weeks but never for more than 45 minutes a day. That way I never found myself stressing,” he says.

Visiting prospective campuses to get a good feel for the atmosphere of the school can be a huge factor in determining which college to choose. Other less known resources include webinars, in which you can sign onto the college’s website and listen to an admission officer talk about specifics. Lastly, you can even contact the admissions officials over email to ask them what their school is looking for in a student.

Although intimidating, interviews can be a great way to emphasize your interest in a school and learn about the experiences of an alumni.

Although the process can be stressful and overwhelming, it is important to remember that high school is not forever and remain excited about the future you get to decide for yourself. “There’s a huge future ahead of me and this is just the beginning of it,” says senior Isabel Brown. “I get to study what you want, live where I want . . . There’s a whole world of possibilities ahead.”