1. When writing your application essays, do them all on ONE computer
I have spent many hours of my life this year having panic attacks because I thought I had lost my college essays when they were, in fact, on a different computer. I made the incredibly moronic mistake of using my home computer, my laptop and (worst of all) the school computers to complete roughly ten essays for four schools and three scholarships. Stupid, stupid, stupid Alex. Save all essays to ONE reliable, functional computer. A flash drive works, too.
2. Read the fine print and DO NOT rely on your friends
Someone this year told me that the first deadline for the UNC-CH application is binding. That person is an idiot. If you want legitimate information about a school’s application process and what is due when, read the application. Some schools require that the application, counselor statement and transcript be sent in on the application deadline; others only require the application. Simple things like that can ease a lot of unnecessary stress or, in extremely unfortunate situations, cause one to stress out more. If the latter does happen, act quickly and try as hard as possible not to panic. Both outcomes have happened to me and I’m still here.
3. Save early, save often
I have heard too many sob stories about spending an entire afternoon filling out twelve pages of information, only to click “Next” and see that some error occurred, deleting your life’s work in an instant. This happens especially often on CFNC’s “common application.” A good rule of thumb is to save your work every five to ten minutes or whenever you finish writing very pertinent, tedious information you really don’t want to type again.
4. Before you head to Student Services, make sure you have everything
There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, that annoys your counselors more than handing in an incomplete or late form. And believe me, you want to be on good terms with your counselor. Make sure to read every single word of any and all forms you need your counselor to fill out, such as the Authorization for Release of Records or counselor statement protocols. Bring the kitchen sink if you think you may need it. I can tell you firsthand that providing insufficient information will grant you a terrifyingly evil stare from everyone in the small office and a sarcastic “don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”
5. Bring a written list of any questions to your counselor meeting
I did not follow this rule, and about two minutes after I left Mrs. Tucker’s office, I thought of five questions I forgot to ask. I then became that annoying student that asked too many questions and flooded my counselor’s inbox with emails. This relates to Rule #4 because this is another thing that really bothers counselors. Go to your meeting prepared so you can take advantage of every minute you have with your college lifeline.
6. Recycle college essays
No one really needed to tell me this, but just in case you were planning to write fifty essays in a month, here it is. Many colleges allow you to submit an essay answering a prompt that they did not provide For example, I wrote an essay for American University that I used for UNC and the same Personal Statement for NCSU and Elon. The same goes for scholarship applications that require essays because most of them ask the same questions over and over again. Just make sure to read the essay over each time you use it to ensure you include the right college name. That, my friend, is a surefire way to get denied.
7. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL BETWEEN NOW AND COLLEGE
Every single college application asks if you have been suspended, expelled, arrested, or have pending criminal charges. If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, it is significantly harder for them to answer “yes” to your acceptance. If that illegal ship has already sailed, hope and pray that a school administrator will vouch for you and write a letter to colleges explaining that what you did was “out of character.” If you have already applied and did something incredibly stupid resulting in administrative or legal punishment, you will be forced to write an embarrassing letter to each school explaining what you did and your punishment. One would think this rule is obvious, but given recent events, it is not. Use your common sense and keep your rebellious acts private.