College Application Strategies for High School Seniors

Choosing a good college is one of the main concerns of high school seniors all over the country. There are so many to choose from! Some seniors may still be on the fence about the college they want to enroll in, or they may be skeptical about their chances of being accepted by their primary choice.

Regardless of your readiness to start applying, you should realize that early fall is the best time to apply. You should start planning now because some of the steps involved in college application processing could take time. Here are some strategies to help you out.

“Carpet Bombing”

This method involves sending out applications to every college that fits your main selection criterion, for instance, proximity to your hometown. You’re not overly concerned about which college accepts you, as long as your main concern is addressed. The idea is to send out as many applications as you can, and then choose among the ones that accept your application.

This strategy is the best one for those that want to attend college nearby. Many seniors are iffy about straying too far away from home, and they want to be able to attend school and still go back home during the weekends without enduring a long commute. Since there may be a limited number of colleges nearby, you may have to cover the colleges in surrounding states.

There are pitfalls to look out for when you use this strategy, including the tendency to write a generic essay that may read and sound exactly like a generic essay. This is the case when you use the same essay to apply to multiple colleges. Worse, if you’ve lifted the text off a template in a resume or job site. The admissions officer may suspect that you were writing off a template, or you’ve copied and pasted the essay so many times without regard for the culture and offerings of the college you’ve sent the application to. An essay that’s specifically meant for a particular college is more sincere and insightful, and could lead to better results.

Another pitfall to avoid is forgetting that you’ve applied to a particular college. It can be very awkward when you receive an unexpected call from a particular college and you sound more shocked than elated to receive the call. There’s also the possibility that you’re missing out on some of the best colleges out there because you’re limiting your options to colleges in a particular area.

“Contingency Planning”

This strategy involves pitting your hopes on your first choice and putting your whole heart on the line when you write your essay. Many high school seniors adopt this all-or-nothing approach, which could only lead to heartbreak and disillusionment when the results are not favorable. But some seniors are smart enough to have a fallback plan just in case their application is rejected.

No matter how high your grades are, or how affiliated your family is to a particular college, there’s a chance that you might not secure a spot because the spots for new freshmen are all gone. Sending an appeal for your rightful spot could take time, which is better spent looking for another equally good college to apply to.

The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll be waitlisted, which means you may have to chew your nails in anxiety until the school makes a final decision regarding your application. Having another college in mind can ease your pain and help you deal with the disappointment if your first choice rejects your application.

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