College Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

As we near early application deadlines, applicants can feel overwhelmed by all the choices floating around in their heads. It can be a stressful and confusing time, and no one wants to make the wrong decisions! Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions:

Is it better to declare a major even if you're undecided?

Generally, there is no issue with not declaring a major when applying to a liberal arts program as schools understand that interests can change. However, some schools like California Polytechnic State University require you to declare a major, so make sure to research each school's policy and talk to an admissions counselor before you decide.

Should I submit more than one recommendation? 

Schools may require only one, so make sure to have one strong recommendation that highlights your best qualities. Schools don't always prefer more recommendations as their time is limited, so make sure that any additional recommendations are strong, and check the school's requirements before deciding if it's appropriate to send.

If a school is test-optional, should I submit my scores?  

If you have strong test scores, then definitely submit them as schools love to report high scores. A test-optional school is geared most towards a student with a strong GPA who has struggled with standardized test scores, so in those cases it's best to take advantage of that policy.

For more answers to frequently asked questions, see this article.

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Important Steps as You Apply to College

Now that you're in the swing of working on your college applications, here are a couple important tasks:

1 - Whenever you get an email from a college, open it. Colleges track demonstrated interest more than ever. This means that when they send you an email, they track your activity. Make sure you open each email, click on each link, click on other links on that page, and leave those pages open for a while.

2 - Clean up your social media footprint. You may not think it matters, but colleges are Googling you more than ever and checking out your social media posts. With competition fiercer than ever, colleges are looking for reasons why you may be better or worse than other applicants. Make sure that anything publicly visible would make a grandparent proud.

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Expert Advice on Writing Those Supplemental Essays

Hopefully, you've gotten a head start on writing your Common App main essay over the summer, and you're focusing more on your supplemental essays now. But whatever your situation, the first step should be organization. If College Essay Organizer is supplied by your school, then you're all set there! It will display all of your essay questions in one place instantly showing how the topics overlap, a step recommended by former Dean of Admissions at Columbia and Harvard turned admissions consultant in this post.

Other important tips shared focus around how you, one of the thousands of applicants, can stand out, especially in the supplemental essays which normally center around why you want to go to a particular school. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Think outside the box: Find a creative way to present your case that breaks the monotony of an admissions counselor's job.
  2. Pinpoint your most unique qualities: Highlight something about you and your goals that are different than everyone else's.
  3. Create a narrative: A good story will grab a counselor's attention and be more memorable.
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University of Georgia Requires Essays for All Applicants

University of Georgia's early applicants always had a great incentive to apply early — no essays to write! This year, things have changed, and ALL first-year applicants must write two required essays whether they apply through the Coalition App or UGa's School App. This is in line with the ever growing importance of college essays in the decision process. How to deal with this shift? University of Georgia's first required essay question frames it perfectly:

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application.

Keep smiling and finding the humor in all of this. It will definitely get you through the rough patches!

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