My college application process: for all you high school seniors

Now that September is right around the corner (3 hours away, as I write this), it’s about time for high school seniors across the nation to begin the long-awaited process of applying to college. Yeah, it’s stressful. And yeah, chances are you’ll put a good amount of blood and sweat into your applications in addition to juggling your coursework. Truthfully, though, it really isn’t too bad of a process…if you’re smart about it. Hopefully, speaking as a freshman in college who survived the process, I’ll be able to impart some wisdom on you seniors. After all, you’re probably the largest demographic for this blog…

As someone who applied–and was accepted–Early Decision (ED) to Cornell, I’ll be the first one to say that I had it easy in the whole process. After December 10th, 2009 at 5pm, I was basically walking on clouds for the remainder of the year. Aware of the possibility, though, that I might not have gotten in, I made sure to apply to 5 other schools early as well: the University of Connecticut, Northeastern University, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, and University of Miami. However, as per the ED contract, I had to withdraw the UMiami and UMaryland applications before hearing my decision.

So…what tips do I have for you guys?

  1. Apply early, somewhere! It doesn’t matter if the school is your first choice or your last–just try to pick and apply to one place that has early admissions. That way, you won’t have to be sweating it out April 1st, with the possibility of not being accepted anywhere looming over your head. On a personal note, hearing back positively from the University of Michigan early really made me feel much more relaxed (and would have softened the blow if my results from Cornell were less than positive).
  2. Apply early decision, if you have a clear first choice. It really does make the process SO much less stressful–but only apply if you’re 100% sure that you’d want to go. Honestly, if you’re SURE that it’s your 1st choice, there’s no reason not to. Cornell even admits that they think applying early decision is a plus: “Because enthusiasm for Cornell is considered a plus, early decision applicants stand a better chance of gaining admission.” (source) As well, I’m pretty sure that if you get in ED and can’t attend because of financial reasons, they’ll let you out of the contract (don’t quote me on this, though).Cornell University Undergraduate Admissions Office - HOW TO APPLY
  3. Be thoughtful/smart when writing your essays. Seriously, a little thought goes a long way. If Cornell is asking you to respond to the question, “Why Cornell?” don’t go into blabbing about the prestige or broadly talking about research. Describe the chilling sensation when you walked on campus and heard the bell tower for the first time. Talk about the personable tour guide you had that epitomized being a Cornellian. Be specific–talk about how you want to take the 1,600 person Psych 101 lecture with Dr. Maas, or look forward to watching Architecture students burning a dragon on Dragon Day. Granted, you won’t be responding to that exact essay topic, but you get the idea.
  4. Seriously, relax. It will all be okay. It’s senior year! It’s one of the most fun times ever–filled with proms, graduation parties, and enjoying the last days with the friends you’ve known forever. I’ve seen people practically driving themselves insane their whole senior year worrying about what will happen college-wise, and it’s just not worth it. Just go into the whole process relaxed but knowing what to expect, and everything will work out for the best.

Now that I’ve written all that, it’s time for me to finish up some homework. Expect another update regarding campus life soon, and seniors–feel free to get in touch with any questions/comments!

6 thoughts on “My college application process: for all you high school seniors

  1. Joel Landzberg

    I’m not your high school demographic that you alluded to, rather the parent of a freshman college student. I have been enjoying reading all your blogs with your insightful accounts of freshman college life – great job.

  2. Jiaqi Fang

    I’m a high school senior in China.
    I’ve been reading your blogs and I really LOVE it!
    加油!:)

  3. Cynthia

    After reading this post, I feel much better about college applications. Thank you so much for addressing top concerns in a senior’s life! This blog has helped me tremendously.

  4. Dalton Allan

    I enjoyed your blog. I am very interested in Cornell and understand that interviews with alumni are possible. How do I go about scheduling one? I live in Michigan. I visited Cornell over the summer, but would not be able to make another trip back there before applications are due.

  5. Mary F.

    I am a ninth grader in Early College and i am doing a project on Eat Carolina University, and I just want to thank you so much for your blogs because I had to fill out multiple college applications just recently. My mind was totally blown away. I honestly went through at least seven applications before I read this! I am truly grateful for your blog… even though I am still three years away from East Carolina University. I would just like to add the fact that you are one to admire! Have a nice Day!

  6. Austin Home Security

    I enjoyed your blog. I am very interested in Cornell and understand that interviews with alumni are possible. How do I go about scheduling one? I live in Texas. I visited Cornell over the summer, but would not be able to make another trip back there before applications are due.

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