Ten advice points from a recent college applicant

Straight from the depths of hell itself – college applications – I have clawed myself out.

Some cynical advice that I will probably look back on later in order to give when people ask for my help next year.

1) Your activities count … like crazy. Once you reach a certain level, you need to do a TON OF STUFF. Otherwise, perfect grades, perfect SAT scores won’t be a secret to success. At the top level, everybody performs well and does a bunch of other stuff.

2) Pour your heart into your essays, but enough is enough. College essays only count for so much. Some people have a fantastic way of spinning their extracurriculars into something much more amazing than it actually is – so obviously good writing helps – but other than that, we only have so much to offer. One of my friends got into Harvard and to be honest, her essay was pretty sucky. But she herself did some crazy awesome stuff – captain of sports teams, perfect GPA, yada yada. So yeah, make it the best you can, but don’t die if it’s not perfect.

3) PRESENTATION IS KEY. Another one of my friends had done stuff, but she made sure she had a beautiful essay with a beautiful goal in mind and perfect listings for everything. She made sure that there wasn’t a silly mistake in any of her stuff and she made all of her top-notch friends to read her stuff to make sure it was as perfect as can be. So know your colleges and know your presentation.

4) Going along with that… have some good friends at some top-notch universities. Ask them for help. You’ll be amazed about the different opinions that will come through into your essay. You might have thought it was gold, but it might have actually been pretty terrible. Having friends who can give you advice is incredibly nice and awesome and fantastic… and I’m thankful for all the people who have helped me along the way.

5) Make sure you really look into schools you want to go to… don’t apply to a school just because you think it looks nice or it sounds pretty – why do you want to go there???? For real?!?!? College might be for having a grand old social experience, but it’s also a time to grow up and mature and see what you are going to do in your life. Plus all those college supplements kill and seeing all your hard work go to waste is straight up annoying – especially when you can look at someone and think that you’ve been so called “better” than them in everything, they might still go to a school you wanted to go to but didn’t get into simply because they are a better fit or they put more effort into the school. Finally, your parents put a whole lotta money into the process, you better go there if you get in.

6) But make sure you have safeties. I have a friend who got rejected from his so-called safeties – Duke, Northwestern, yada yada, and then got into MIT. THIS IS NOT A GUARANTEE THAT THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. Be careful and apply to safeties. They never hurt. It’s better to know you got into college than risk it just for wanting to go a little crazy at the high level.

7) Be a good person. A college can tell. They can tell if you’re mean or selfish – through your recs or even your essays themselves – so just be a good person and someone will want you.

8) It’s a surprise and you’ll never know where you end up. Over the course of a week, my friend got rejected, deferred, and accepted to three different schools with very similar acceptance rates. That’s crazy. She’s the same applicant. So don’t put everything into one college. Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one school. You might get in and have the best time of your life, or you might not and just drown in the tears of sadness. Better just not get too worked up about any one college. It’s a mystery! Let it be one.

9) Some honest feedback: wherever you go for college doesn’t define you. It does not define you. Don’t let it define you. Coming straight from that hell, I’ve seen people get into schools that others have not. I have seen a lot of hatred and teasing and condescension. Don’t be that way. It’s going to suck, I know, and that feeling of apprehension is something that everyone will face, at least for a little bit. But you’ll get through it! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be happy and confident wherever you go.

10) (sidenote: whewwww I am getting quite worked up… ) There is no guarantee. No guarantee at all. Unless you’ve managed to start your own nonprofit organization, you are the son of the president of the university, you participated in the Olympics idk, you have no guarantee of getting into the college of your dreams. My friend was hoping she would get deferred or accepted to a college… she got straight up rejected. (I have a lot of friends huh we bond over college experiences) You have no guarantee. It’s a crapshoot. You just gotta ride the waves and go with the flow. Make yourself the craziest competitor that you can be, the best person that you can be – but understand that once you’re at the college application process, you’re at the final step, the final goodbye, whatever. You’ve done what you’ve done and that’s all you can do but make yourself presentable. That’s it. Accept it. Move on. Put it in God’s hands. Know that you’ll be happy wherever you go, understand?!?!? If not, you can always transfer.

Take it, leave it, I rest my case. Or whatever this rant/advice column or whatever this is is.

Lots of love, a fellow college applicant.


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