The Chemist: College Application Tips
Hey Everyone! Sorry I didn't post last week for #Macademics, I was in San Diego for a conference, but I'm back now and this week we're going to give some tips on how to apply for college. I remember being in 12th grade and starting the application process and feeling overwhelmed. It was scary thinking about potentially moving to a new city (which I ended up doing), having to make all new friends, and just overall growing up and being on my own. But I'm here to tell you all that you will get into a college/university and you will make it through undergrad - or graduate/professional school.
So here are my tips that I hope will help during the application process.
Meet All the Deadlines
This is so important! Write down the deadlines for these applications, set reminders on your phone, whatever you do keep track of things. In 12th grade, or even your last year of undergrad, it gets extremely busy and these deadlines sneak up on you. If you're applying for scholarships/grants/fellowships, the deadlines are probably earlier than the regular admission deadline, so you want to make sure you're not late and miss out. For schools with rolling admissions, apply early to get those out of the way since that deadline is flexible. What you don't want to happen is you being up late the night before the deadline trying to put the finishing touches on your application. Planning ahead = a little less stress during the process.
Proofread Your Essay(s)
Now these applications are going to require you to write something, whether it's an essay based off a prompt, a personal statement, or a research statement , you will be writing something. Remember, your first draft is not a final draft, unless you're an AMAZING writer typically it takes a few drafts to get it just right. Start writing then proofread it THEN get someone else to proofread it to make sure it makes sense. Get multiple people to do it because 9/10 you'll miss something. You want to make sure you're answering the prompt well and are concise and coherent throughout the document. Use your friends, family members, teachers at your school, anyone that has the time to edit your essay(s). Another set of eyes on it can't hurt.
Choose Your Recommendations Wisely
I know I've touched on this before, but it's definitely worth repeating. Don't choose someone to write a letter for you if they don't actually know you. Sometimes you have to have your academic advisor write a letter for you so that's harder to avoid, but regardless make sure they know you on some level. The other letters with the people you can CHOOSE, choose wisely. Typically, it's good to have someone in your potential area of interest write a letter for you because that shows that you're actively seeking a future career in that field and that you're networking, but if you're going into STEM and haven't buddied up to a STEM teacher, that's fine too. You just want to pick someone that can speak towards your character and your work ethic.
Actually Visit the Schools You're Applying To (if possible)
Lastly, when applying to college it's important to get a feel for the campus you're going to be on. You want to make sure it feels right. Anyone in my family will tell you that in high school I was SURE I was going to Penn State, you couldn't tell me differently. On paper, that was my dream school, so I went to visit and it just didn't feel quite right. It's a great school, don't get me wrong, but I just wasn't sold on my visit. Now when I went to Pitt? It was perfect. I felt like I belonged there and that it was everything I wanted in a school for undergrad. And that's where I ended up and it was a great decision. #H2P always. I had a similar feeling when I came to visit OSU when I was choosing grad schools, it felt right and I haven't regretted this decision either (Go Bucks!). Now I understand that you can't go visit every single school on your list, but I would try to at least visit your top 3 schools. You want to scope out the lay of the land and get a feel for the area since you'll be spending at least 4 years there. Visits are also a great time to ask any question you have on tours. The students are the best people to answer your questions and will keep it pretty real with you too.
What other questions do you have about the application process? Tweet me!