Dos and Don’ts for the College ApplicationBy Huntington Learning Center
The start of senior year brings a lot of excitement and a long list of to-dos for teens planning to go to college. Here are a few dos and don’ts that your teen should keep in mind:
- Do stay organized and ahead of deadlines. This past spring and summer break were unique in that many juniors-going-on-seniors didn’t even have the chance to take the SAT or ACT due to the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, now that senior year is underway, it’s important for your teen to keep a college checklist with deadlines (for financial aid, applications, and more) and build plenty of cushion into that schedule. Your teen should keep hard-copy and digital files to store all information and documents for each college.
- Don’t ignore the college-specific details. Each college and university is unique, and your teen needs to pay close attention to what those institutions require of applicants. Deadlines will vary from college to college – and might be different from the last time your teen checked (pre-COVID-19). One college might require an essay while the other makes it optional. Encourage your teen to research those top few colleges’ admissions websites thoroughly and follow all application directions closely.
- Do give the admission essay plenty of effort. If your teen is applying to a college or university that requests an essay, it’s important that they invest the time into brainstorming and crafting a compelling, well-written essay and not simply come up with a topic and crank it out over a weekend. Have your teen take a look at our blog post on creating a strong essay that will stand out to admission officers.
- Don’t use the essay to simply repeat the resume. The essay is your teen’s chance to strengthen the overall application. It can help your teen stand apart and show that your teen is an interesting individual with ambitions who will contribute greatly to campus life and their future career. Make sure your teen gives it the attention and time it deserves and doesn’t write something that sounds like it could have come from any other student.
- Do be sincere. Your teen must keep in mind that their goal with the college application is to share all accomplishments (via the transcript with GPA, test scores, and resume) along with the challenges that have shaped them, passions for the future, and excitement about the college to which they are applying. If your teen tells that story and is authentic and honest in doing so, it will come through in the college application and supplemental materials.
- Don’t exaggerate or try to sound like someone else. Sure, your teen wants to impress, but embellishing accomplishments or flat-out lying isn’t the way to go. Similarly, your teen should avoid answering questions on any application with the mindset of trying to be someone “better” or gushing over the college or university. Instead, encourage your teen to simply share who they are and why the college needs to know that.
This is a big year for your teen! Encourage them to approach college applications diligently. And don’t hesitate to reach out to Huntington if your teen needs support on the SAT/ACT or in school. This is your teen’s chance to finish high school strong. If we can help them prepare for college success, contact us at 1-800 CAN LEARN.