Likely by now most seniors have a collection of college marketing letters, pamphlets and emails. All of which scream to seniors another thing to do. They struggle enough keeping up with academics, sports, extra curriculars, community service and their social life without adding college applications to the list.
Most seniors realize that there is not much downtime in their daily schedule, so waiting for a free hour to work on applications is going to prove unfruitful. In order to overcome this seniors should work designated application time into their schedule. Bigfork High School Counselor Solveig Munson says “It’s important to schedule time, or you won’t make time […] Maybe it’s Wednesday from 8-8:40, or maybe your study hall (if you have one), or senior privilege time once/week.”
As an added measure, students do not need to apply to every school that sends them a pamphlet. That can be overwhelming to say the least. However, Munson advises that seniors intending to have a post secondary education should apply to at least three schools. There is no hard and fast rule about how many colleges seniors should apply to but Munson instructs seniors to apply to “your reach school, your middle of the line school, and maybe a community college.”
However the real meat of the application process is what seniors should include. Lou Jessop, Bigfork High School’s Senior English teacher, explains, “it’s beyond just your brag sheet of what you have accomplished but that there was a thoughtful human behind there, that was curious about the world, that wasn’t just repeating what they had heard or parroting kind of the behavior even that they thought would get them the most points or leverage.”
In applications, admissions officers for who a student really is. By senior year students have done plenty with their lives, but who are they, and why does it matter? Jessop says, “The most important thing in my opinion that students should put in their application essay is themselves, in the sense that they are trying to stand out and they have to believe in their unique experience and not try to sound like everyone else because then you become nobody else…I just turn down kids who have all the high scores, like this kid’s not worth the scholarship. Because their ACT is off the charts they’ve done all this extra stuff but that doesn’t feel like a real person, it just feels like they’ve been a robot for four years. So don’t be a robot.”
Munson adds to that explaining that admissions officers and scholarship committees “like to see authenticity, not another application that says something trite, like ‘I’m a people person.’ What does that look like? Paint the picture for your audience rather than outright stating it.”
Seniors applications should show the different facets of who they are as a person and not just as a student. After 16 to 18 years of life under their belt, they are not a cookie cutter version of anything, life has shaped and molded them into something entirely original and admissions officers want to see that person.