With the commonapp opening tomorrow (AHH!) there’s a lot of pressure to get the college admisisons show on the road.
However, it’s rough to start off without having a list.
There are a few different tools available online for making a college list, and while they all have their pros and cons, I do recommend all of the following tools:
Admitted.ly is fairly new and changing constantly, but I highly recommend it.
Pro: The big “pro” of admittedly is that it helps you not only find schools that match your academic profile, but helps you figure out what you like in a school by using personality questions.
Con: It’s con is that it’s not bare-bones the way other matchmakers are (it will probably take you 10-15 minutes to get your matches and you do need to make an account), but it’s very cool and it has a lot of features.
It also has the huge advantage (in my book) of not being collegeboard (because we all hate them juuuust a little bit). It makes college matching into a “game” and it does a really nice job of helping you sort out what you like in a school.
This is the textbook example of an online matchmaker. It’s bare bones and it does it’s job well.
Pro: It will find you academic matches based on your stats, how much you think you can pay, and your location. It does a good job of giving you a ton of different schools based on your preferences.
Con: It’s bare bones so it won’t help you limit by “feel” or soft factors. It’s also extremely optimistic about what schools it gives.
This is a good place to start, if nothing else.
This one is unfortunately only available if your school uses their system, but if you have it at your disposal I recommend checking it out.
Pro: This does school-specific stats, so it can be especially useful for things like out of state schools (which tend to be more competitive than what they list). Their matchmaker is similar to collegeboard’s but it does include schools that don’t meet 100% of your criteria for you to check out.
Con: Obviously the “only available to some people” thing is a big one. Also it’s numbers are easily screwed up by outliers (as in, athletes or legacies), so it may not give a good estimate all the time.
Go forth and match.
To tell others where you’re applying.
To tell anyone your SAT score.
To explain your acceptance if others think it’s a “Fluke.”
To show your friends your essays.
To rationalize your rejections.
To have a “first choice”
To like the “best” school over the right school.
To apply to a reach school.
To fill out all 10 activities on the Commonapp.
To finish your applications by August 30th*
To apply to your “legacy” school if you have strong opposition.
To write about anything you don’t want to write about.
You are obligated to make the right choices for you.
*unless you’re a certain blood relative of mine who has a lot of rolling schools.
There’s something to be said for knowing yourself well.
Know thyself… Because it will help you write your essays.
This week, before supplements come out, write a list of 10 things about yourself that aren’t especially apparent from your resume or transcript.
So… For example. Don’t write “I’m smart” because your GPA shows that. Dig deeper. Write, “I’ve always been insatiably curious about science, and I needed a well rounded understanding of math and kick ass reading comprehension to fuel it”
Don’t write, “I’m the secretary of student gov” write, “Being a middle child has made me a natural mediator and organizer.”
Write silly things, like that you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate in college, but you hope they’ll be open to dance party study breaks.
Write serious things.
Write things that matter to you, even if you think there’s no way you’ll be able to fit them on an app.
It’s 10 things, so make that cheat sheet.
When it comes to freshman survival I can not recommend joining clubs, teams, and activities enough. Join things. Join too many things, you’ll sort your priorities later.
However, what I wish I knew going in was that you don’t just have to join things, you need to join social things.
There’s a really big difference, and it will make or break you first semester.
Freshman, without exception, feel confused and lonely. Your job as a well informed, well prepared freshman is to accept this as reality BUT to do your best to avoid this fate.
A great way to do this is to join things. But the trick is to find at least a few things that are social.
This does not have to be a social-based group (though, ya know, Greek life is fun and I recommend it if you think your university’s unique Greek system is a good fit for you). It can be any type of club.
In college, some activities are places people make good friends and routinely hang out with each other, and others simply meet in the confines of the activity. You need to find things where people hang out outside of the club/practice/etc time.
My roommate is the best example of this. She joined an acapella group that is (as I lovingly call it) pretty much a cult. They spend 24/7 with each other, and they basically speak their own language. Lots of social opportunities, lots of friendship.
She also is part of another music club that doesn’t have any social opportunities. You go, you jam a little, and then you leave. It’s a fun group, it’s a group worth joining, but it’s just an activity.
My improv group and my sorority are social. Chorus is not.
There’s a difference, and it goes a long way to helping you settle into college.
With the commonapp opening in a little less than two weeks, the pressure is starting to build.
Here’s some things to know about “Opening Day” of the Commonapp.
1. You do not need to know what you’re writing about yet
Full disclosure, my brother hasn’t even started his essay yet. And he won’t until at least August 1st.
The essay needs time to stew, and your experiences as a person this summer will help your perspective on the essay. You may not be able to know what you want to write about until after you’ve seen the supplements for other schools. That’s okay. Yes, have a solid draft done before school starts, but you have weeks. Don’t feel pressured to have it done by August 1st.
2. The website will not be ready.
Chances are it will crash or log you out. Be ready, save often.
More importantly, most of your supplements are unlikely to be ready or online on opening day. That’s fine. Take a look at what is ready, and check back for updates.
3. Start filling out info, don’t worry if you can’t do everything yet.
A good way to get used to the interface is to start filling out your personal info. But if you don’t know some of the answers (and chances are, you’ll need to ask your parents for a few questions) just answer what you do know. This section isn’t hard, but it is long. It’s the first thing to finish.
4. and most importantly, don’t stress. This is a gradual process, so don’t feel pressure about it opening. I promise it will be very anti-climatic, and it should be.
Rising juniors, you’re probably a little nervous right now. Which is fair, junior year is rumored to be the scariest, most difficult year of school. It’s definitely not easy, but that’s okay. Nothing good was ever easy.
Take it from the girl who broke out into hives while taking the SAT, there are lots of ways to make testing much, much easier.
Here are three ways to make standardized testing in junior year just a bit easier for you:
1. Look At (and Plan Around) Test Dates
I’ll do the first one for you: The PSAT is October 15th and 18th.