APPLYING TO THE COLLEGES
If any of the colleges you are applying to have rolling (no specific deadlines)
admissions, you should apply as soon as possible in the fall of your senior year,
and, if accepted, make a prompt decision about whether or not you wish to attend.
If the freshman class fills up before you apply or decide to accept the college's
offer, you are out of luck, no matter how qualified you are.
EARLY NOTIFICATION PLANS
Another reason you may want to prepare your application earlier in the fall is if
you decide to participate in an early notification program. There are two major
kinds, and each has significant advantages and disadvantages. For some colleges,
these programs are a recruitment strategy, a chance to attract some of the best
students early. For students, the programs can be an opportunity, a strait jacket or
Early decision . In this program, you apply to your first choice college either by
November 1 or between November 1 and February 1 of your senior year, and
make a firm commitment to attend that college if accepted. Early decision is a
clear commitment on your part. The college notifies you of its decision either by a
specific date or within four weeks of completion of your file. If you are accepted,
you must withdraw all other regular admission applications you may have filed
while waiting to hear from the early decision college. You can file only one early
Most schools are unwilling to reject early decision candidates outright. If you are
not a clear accept candidate, they will frequently inform you that your application
has been deferred, to be reconsidered without prejudice along with the rest of the
applicant pool. If your application is deferred, you are of course free to apply to
other schools while you wait to hear that school's decision in the spring. Once that
happens, you are no longer bound by early decision constraints.
Applying early decision can reduce the stress and strain of your senior year if you
are accepted to that one school you really want by December, rather than waiting
until April to hear. Applying to a college on this basis can make a big difference
to an admissions staff. As Albert Quirk of Dartmouth puts it, "Admissions
committees are impressed when a student in effect announces that he or she wants
that school above all others. "
Do not apply early unless you have a clear first choice! Do not do it unless your
junior year grades and test scores are excellent. Do not apply early just to cut
short the often agonizingly long stretch of time between applications and
notification. You must be sure that the school you choose for early decision is the
school you want to attend in September.
One of the disadvantages of applying early decision is that you have less time to
complete your application, be cause the deadlines are earlier. Another
disadvantage is the possibility that you could change your mind about the college
you have committed yourself to attending. Please remember that you must not put
off preparing other applications while you are waiting for an earlydecision
notification. If you are rejected or deferred by your early decision choice, you will
be way behind in applying to other ones.
On the other hand, if your choice is one that tends to reject early decision
candidates rather than deferring them and reconsidering them as regular
admission applicants, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying too
early. Consider whether your midterm senior grades might make a more favorable
impression than past grades have, or whether an extracurricular honor in sports or
the arts might come your way after an early decision has been made. Remember,
too, that standards for early decision candidates are often somewhat higher than
those for the regular applicant pool. Admissions committees may feel differently
about your application after they have measured you against the rest of the
students from whom they have to choose. Is your application so strong that an ad
missions office will be sure it wants you, without having to check out the
If you are considering early decision, it might be worthwhile to check with the
admissions office or with your guidance counselor about how the school's
rejection rate will affect your chance.
Even if you are confident of your chances for acceptance, you should think very
carefully about an early decision plan. Once you have made the commitment, you
cannot back out of it. Selective schools especially, tend to be in touch with one
another and would deal very harshly with a candidate who tried to break the
earlydecision rules. If your first choice school is clearly far ahead of the others, in
your mind, then perhaps early decision is for you. But if you want the flexibility
that comes from having a choice, you may want to wait and take your chances
with the rest of the applicant pool.
If you do have a strong first choice school that you are sure you would love to
attend, and you have a truly superior record by the end of your junior year, you
may want to consider the earlydecision option.
Early action. This early notification program is used primarily by Ivy League
colleges including Yale, Brown, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT and a few other
very selective schools. As with early decision, you can apply for early action at
only one college. You must apply by November 1, and the college must notify
you of its decision by mid December. An advantage to early action is that you do
not automatically commit yourself to that college when you apply. If you are
accepted as an early action candidate, you still have until May to accept or decline
the offer, and you can apply to other schools in the meantime. If the school you
have applied to under the early action plan is clearly your first choice, please
consider withdrawing your applications from other schools if you accept the early
action offer of admission. "Stockpiling" acceptances is discourteous and knocks
other people out of the running.
The disadvantage of early action is that you may be rejected on this basis and you
will not be reconsidered at a later date for regular admission. "When we feel
confident that an early action candidate will be rejected in the spring, we prefer to
make the final decision in December," says admissions dean James Rogers of
Brown. In that sense, early action is riskier than early decision. Unless your
grades and test scores are so outstanding by the end of your junior year, applying
early action could actually hurt your chances of being admitted to the college of
The exact terms of earlydecision and early action plans vary from college to
college, so read the rules of each school carefully before you decide on either
There are a few colleges that have no early notification plans. Stanford is one of
them. According to its policy, "The best way for a student to learn about different
colleges is to go through the application process; the student who has several
acceptances in hand in the spring will make the most informed choice.
HOW THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS WORKS
Keep in mind that only a few applicants to selective colleges are accepted or
rejected immediately. The rest the majority are reevaluated, discussed, or even
argued about several times before a final decision is made. What often counts
about your application is what the admissions committee sees when it takes a
second or third look at you. It should see something special that would make you
an asset to the college community some special ability, something about your
background or personality, something about your imagination or the way you
express yourself, something revealing and candid a teacher may have said about
you in other words, anything that makes you stand out, a "hook" that gives
someone on the admissions staff a reason to fight for you.
You cannot always predict what that "something" will be. All you can do is make
sure that you present your self in the best, most interesting, most personalized,
and most genuine way throughout your application. You just might become
someone's "discovery" on the admissions committee, the person he or she would
really like to see admitted.
This strategy is most important when it comes to writing your essay and selecting
which teachers you will ask to write recommendations for you. How you present
yourself even in the factual sections of the application the ways in which you
personalize the information and emphasize the parts of your background you want
to stand out can also make a difference. Whether you follow up on this factual
information later in your essay may determine whether the college gets a
consistent, believable image of who you are.
When you begin applying to colleges, it is probably too late to dramatically
change your background. Therefore it is paramount that you express your
background, positive or negative in an optimistic fashion.
Take a good hard look at your academic achievements as you fill out your
application. Will they be an asset or a liability? How can you enhance or offset
the impression your grades will make?
If your grades and test scores are good, you can be reasonably sure that the
selective colleges will at least take a second look at you to see what else you have
to offer. If they are not, you will have to create a really strong impression in some
other area of the application to have even a fighting chance of getting in.
Many times your background can afford that fighting chance, if you need it.
Colleges use the information you present here to put your achievements in
perspective, to see what you have accomplished in relation to your background.
Your objective is to present your background in a positive manner. If you have
endured difficult times, be sure to state what you have learned from them; make
yourself stand out! Some colleges may be looking for students with certain
specific background characteristics.
Is your racial or ethnic background rare at that college? Do you come from a
geographic area from which the college would like to recruit more students?
Perhaps you come from a large city, a suburb, or a rural area.Did your parents
Most importantly, tell the truth. Give the colleges an indepth look at you. Tell
them about your and tell them about your goals. Be sure to also include this type
of information in your essay.
INDICATING A MAJOR
On many applications there is a section for indicating what field of study you
think you would like to major in. If you have a special interest, by all means say
so. This does not commit you to that field, and might be another way of
personalizing your application. If you think you might be interested in one of the
smaller, less popular departments at the college, it is especially important to say
so. Colleges need to keep these departments going, and faculty members
frequently have a say in who gets accepted.
On the other hand, don't be afraid to check undecided. Colleges expect many
students, especially those going into the liberal arts, to be undecided at this stage
of their lives. Being undecided could influence your chances if you are
considering a career in engineering, business, or the sciences. Faculty members in
these fields like to see a high degree of motivation, commitment, and achievement
from applicants. If you indicate business or engineering as a career goal, you may
be asked to write a short statement about why the field interests you. Take this
request very seriously. Your comments will be carefully compared with those of
other applicants with your interest.
Your objective in this section is to show the colleges that you are an individual
that is diverse. It is important to list the activities that you have done, but be
careful to select the activities that will enhance or augment your application.
This section of your application is important for several reasons. First of all, if
you have done something truly different like starting a business or organizing a
conference say it. If you've won a national musical competition or had writing
published in a magazine or the newspaper, that fact may be of interest some to the
admissions officer. Other activities related to leadership, community service, etc
are also good choices.
Be selective. List only those activities that are important and list them in order of
your commitment to them.
Keep in mind that your list of activities should con tribute in some way to the
image you are establishing in your application.
There may be a question asking you to describe what an important activity has
meant to you. Answer it carefully. If not, consider expressing this in your essay if
What about submitting additional materials to back up your claims of
extracurricular achievements? Many colleges invite you to send them art, papers,
or other evidence of creative achievements. Be cautious about doing so. Some
materials can do you more harm than good, because faculty members can be
tough critics. Get the advice of the most talented professional person you know in
your field before submitting anything. And, remember, quality is more important
When completing the college application be sure to include any job experience
that you have had ifit relates to you field of interest. If no question specifically ask
about job experience, then consider adding it under extracurricular activities. In
general, colleges like to see signs of initiative and independence in applicants, and
some aspect of your work experience no matter how minute may provide a good
topic for your essay.
ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
You bet they are! Especially at selective colleges. The recommendation letters of
a student can be the determining factor whether a student is accepted.
It is extremely important to note that a person will have a difficult time writing a
positive recommendation, if they do not know you. Therefore, it is very important
to get to know your teachers and counselors well. When talking with them, be
sure to tell them about your future goals, your interest and such. It is best to start
visiting during your Junior year and be sure to visit often!
THE COUNSELOR'S RECOMMENDATION
The counselor is one of the people who can really pull for you. The counselor is
almost always asked to indicate your rank in class and is also invited to write
about your intelligence, motivation, maturity, independence, initiative, and
Many competitive colleges ask for two teacher evaluations. Choose the teachers
carefully. If either of them seems reluctant or unenthusiastic, ask someone else. A
neutral recommendation can kill your chances at a really selective school
The most important rule in choosing which teachers to ask is to select teachers
that know you WELL. It is a good idea to ask teachers from two different subject
areas. Ideally, one of them should be from the field in which you hope to major,
especially if that field is one of the sciences.
Choose a teacher you have taken courses from during your sophomore, junior, or
senior years, one in whose classes you have worked hard. You do not have to
select teachers who gave you As a teacher who watched you struggle with a
difficult course and eventually succeed in getting a B can write convincingly of
your persistence and determination
You may be surprised to discover that some extremely complimentary
recommendations can hurt your chances of getting into a college. Admissions
committee members are suspicious of candidates who sound too perfect.
The most effective recommendations focus on a few of your most important
strengths and weaknesses and give specific examples of ways in which you have
demonstrated positive qualities. If your recommendations are not bland, if they
show you as an individual with specific strong points and shortcomings, you will
stand out in the committee's memory. As in the guidance counselor's evaluation,
the teacher will be asked to comment not only on your academic ability, but on
specific aspects of your personality as well. You cannot tell teachers what to write
about you, but you can tell them what you are hoping this particular college will
find interesting about you and in what ways you are trying to stand out from the
crowd. The better you know the teacher the easier it will be to discuss your
Keep in mind that some teachers write better recommendations than others simply
because they are better writers and/or understand the admissions process better.
You may want to ask your guidance counselor if there are any teachers you have
had who write particularly good ones.
Give your teachers several weeks to write your evaluations. Make sure they know
the deadlines for completing them and that they have all the proper forms.
Remind them politely of the deadline as it draws near. Please be sure to thank
them for their effort and keep them posted as you start receiving your
acceptances. By the way, you have the right to see everything in your admissions
folder once you have been accepted at a college. You can waive this right, and
many college advisers suggest that you do so, in order to encourage your teachers
to be as candid as possible in their evaluations of you. Remember, an honest
evaluation from a teacher who respects you is much more persuasive than a
vague, bland one from a teacher who is afraid to say anything even vaguely
Should you include other references with your application? You might consider
including a recommendation from an employer who knows you well and can
write in specific terms about some special quality you have demonstrated on the
job or something special you have achieved. If you organized an after school
gymnastics pro gram at your local daycare center or played a major role in
helping out during a community disaster, your super visor on those jobs would
probably write a great reference for you.
Remember please be careful about overloading your file with extra materials.
Quality is more important than quantity.
PREPARING FOR THE ESSAY
Before you begin the process of writing your essay, look over your application
carefully to see what kind of person is revealed there so far. What aspects of your
background and achievements seem most important to you as you re view them?
Is there anything special about your family background, your community or
school, your achievements, or your work experience which might inspire a
specific essay topic about which you could express your self in an interesting,
genuine perhaps touching or amusing way? Does looking over this record of your
life so far bring back any specific memories of happy times, sad times, difficulties
you've overcome? Specific experiences usually make the best essay topics. The
essay is the part of the application that seniors think over most. Just how
important is it, what makes a good essay, and how can you get through yours
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ESSAY
The essay is "one of the most carefully read and influential parts of application. "
Your essay is your chance to really come alive in your application, to express
your personality and character. It can be your most powerful "hook," the part that
really attracts someone on the admissions committee. How well you organize
your ideas and express them is just as important as what you choose to write
about. "Prose is what makes some applications sparkle," . "Some applicants don't
measure up to others on grades, but exceptional writing can sweep them in. " The
most important thing to remember is to be your self. The members of admissions
committees have read thousands of essays. They can usually spot the student who
is telling them what he or she thinks the staff wants to hear. Let your individuality
come through in your choice of topic and your style of writing.
CHOOSING THE TOPIC
For some colleges, the essay topic is wide open, completely up to you. Others
give you two or three specific topics from which to choose. The topics selected by
the colleges can be very straightforward. Some ask you to discuss a book you
have read, to tell them something significant about your extracurricular activities
or work experiences, or to describe important academic goals. Other colleges ask
questions that require more original thought on your part.
Typically, colleges ask a general question that gives you a great deal of leeway in
how you choose to answer. Many ask you to describe a special interest, an
important experience, or a significant person in your life and to discuss the impact
of this person or thing. No matter what the question, remember these three
pointers for your essay: make it specific, make it personal, and make it interesting.
When the topic is wide open, it is still a good idea to write something about your
family background, an experience that has influenced you, or a person who has
The first step in getting ready to write your essay may be the most important
narrowing the topic. Instead of trying to tell everything about yourself, zero in on
one specific aspect of your experience and then make it come alive with vivid
incidents and examples. You could write about how you overcame a hardship in
your life, how you took on and completed a difficult project, what it is like
growing up in a large family or having immigrant grandparents, or how you were
affected by a family crisis. If you choose one of these serious topics, be open and
personal, but do not write a sob story that makes you sound unstable or self-
pitying. Good essays can be humorous, too. But humor can be risky, so do not
attempt this kind of essay unless you are a naturally funny person and a good
writer. Remember that there is a fine line between being funny and being a smart
If you choose to write about a job or outside activity that has changed you in some
way, remember the advice stated earlier: be specific. Do not just say, "Working in
an office taught me how to cope with red tape and boredom and still motivate
myself to do a good job. " Instead, give examples serious or humorous of things
that happened on the job and how you coped with them. Describe the day the
copying machine broke down and your boss came in three hours late and the
phone would not stop ringing and how you dealt with it all. Don't just say,
"Playing the violin has taught me the value of dedication and the necessity of
making sacrifices in order to achieve my goals. " Instead, describe an incident in
which you were forced to give up immediate pleasures in order to pursue long-
How do you get started? You might consider starting a journal during your junior
and senior years, a place to jot down memories and impressions. Early in your
senior year sit down and make a list of topics or experiences that might be
interesting to write about and read about. Look at your list a few days later and
choose the two or three topics that seem most appealing. Then make an outline for
each of them, detailing specific points or incidents you would write about. If it
helps you to "bounce" ideas with other people, or express them out loud, by all
means do so. Just make sure the final idea that emerges is your own.
Choose the topic that seems to have the most potential and let it simmer for a few
days, giving yourself time to jot down random thoughts related to the idea without
feeling any pressure.
WRITING THE ESSAY
Your essay will not be written in one sitting. Think of it as a process extending
over several weeks. The finished product should be 200 to 500 words or one to
two typed pages. Once you have your topic and have jotted down some ideas
about it, make a more detailed outline than the first one you did. Try to organize
all the material you have in a way that makes sense. Then start writing. Do not be
too critical of your work at first. Just let your ideas flow. Spend a few days
writing, putting the essay away, then coming back to reread and rewrite.
Once you have a draft you feel comfortable with, have one or two people whose
judgment you trust read it over. These readers should have some idea of what
admissions committees are looking for, and you may need to educate them about
that. But what you really need to know at this point is how interesting and
readable the essay is. Ask your readers to keep these questions in mind: Is it
interesting? Does it have enough specific details to make it lively? . Is it well
organized? Do the ideas make sense? Is there a natural flow from one idea to the
next? Are there good transitions from one paragraph to the next? Do you come
across as an intelligent, interesting person? Do you sound genuine and honest? Or
do you sound conceited and egotistical? Preachy and pompous? Stiff and
impersonal? Is your vocabulary conversational but correct? Have you used
sentences of varying lengths and structures? Are there grammatical problems in
the essay? Spelling errors? (Do not worry too much about proofreading now,
Carefully consider the comments made by your readers and spend a few days
rewriting your essay. When you have completed the final draft, have at least two
people (including your English teacher, if you like), proofread it for errors in
spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Then type or print the essay on the form
provided. Make several copies of the essay form first and practice printing or
typing your essay on the copies before you put the final, final draft on the original
TIMING YOUR APPLICATIONS
GENERAL TIPS FOR FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS
Apply early. For many highly competitive colleges, the deadline for
applications is January 1. If you are applying early action or early decision, it is
even earlier. For others, the deadline is February 1 or before.
Know the exact application deadline for each college you plan to apply to and
have your application completed several weeks earlier than that date.
Some high schools prefer that you turn your application into the guidance
office, where the other necessary forms (transcripts, recommendations, etc. ) will
be attached and the entire package mailed at the same time. Please find out
exactly what the policy is at your school, and be sure to give your completed
application to the guidance office several weeks in advance of the school's
Read all directions on the application thoroughly before you even think about
filling it out.
Make one or two copies of each application form before you fill it out.
Practice filling out these copies first and save the original copy for your final
Keep an application checklist for each college you are applying to.
Don't throw anything away instructions, correspondence, test results,
addresses, etc. Losing an important piece of paper could ruin all your careful
Fill out the application neatly, accurately, and thoroughly. Type your
application or print it neatly if you have good handwriting. Remember, the point
of your whole application is to create the best possible impression, and a sloppily
filled out form may be taken as a lack of respect or commitment or interest.
Make copies of the completed applications and any other important forms
before you mail them to the colleges or turn them in to your guidance office,
whichever is the case.
Send your application by certified mail if possible so you will be automatically
notified as soon as it is received. You might include a stamped, self addressed
postcard for the college to mail back to you when they receive the application. In
any case, if you do not receive confirmation that the application has been
received, write or phone the college to make sure the form has not been lost.
Remember to file financial aid forms by the dead line they are due.
TIMING YOUR APPLICATION
Most students applying to competitive colleges mail in their applications in
November, December, and January of their senior year. Admissions folders at
these colleges are usually evaluated between February and late March. The
colleges send out their acceptance, wait list, or rejection letters on or about April
15, and students are required to select the college they will attend by May 1. Not
all colleges follow this calendar, however. At schools with rolling admissions,
applicants are accepted or rejected within three to six weeks of completion of
their files. A complete file contains the application, official transcript, and any
other documents required by the school (such as teacher recommendations and
official test scores). The admissions committees at these schools make a decision
on each application immediately rather than waiting until all applications have
been received and compared.
[ ] I have carefully read all the instructions and questions on this application
before beginning to fill it out.
[ ] I have made arrangements for the college to receive a transcript of my grades.
According to the instructions on the application, I have done one of the following:
[ ] Taken the transcript form that came with the application and given it to my
guidance counselor to fill out and mail.
[ ] Given my guidance counselor a written request to send my transcript to the
[ ] Informed the guidance office that the college will be writing to ask for a
transcript. completed my entire application and turned it in to the guidance office
so that the counselor can attach my transcript and mail in the complete package to
[ ] I have requested that the College Entrance Examination Board report my SAT
and achievement test re sults to this college (and/or made arrangements for ACT
scores to be reported).
[ ] I submitted a counselor recommendation form to my guidance counselor on the
following date: date: ___________________
[ ] I have submitted requests for recommendations to the following teachers:
[ ] I have typed or printed all factual information required on the application. I
have done so honestly, thoroughly, and neatly.
[ ] I have completed a rough draft of the essay required for this application.
[ ] I have had teachers, parents, and/or friends read my essay, make suggestions,
and proofread it for any errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
[ ] I have neatly typed or printed the final version of my essay on the application
[ ] I have enclosed a check for the application fee.
[ ] I have included my return address and correct postage on the envelope.
[ ] I have sent the application by certified mail or in eluded a stamped, self-
addressed postcard for the college to mail to me as acknowledgment that the
application was received.
[ ] Completed application was mailed on _______________
[ ] Deadline for financial aid forms is _______________
[ ] Forms mailed on _______________
[ ] Acceptances will be mailed by _______________
[ ] I must accept offer by _______________
MAIL THE APPLICATION AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS
Now that you have reviewed and completed the checklist above, get the
completed application into the mail as soon as possible. All you need to do now is
focus on graduating and wait to see what comes in the mail in the next few
months. Good luck! Be sure to make a copy of the application and the form you
completed above for each college you apply to and attach it to the folder for that
THE INTERVIEW: HOW IMPORTANT
The importance of having an interview with someone from the admissions staff
varies from college to college. Admissions directors at competitive schools
usually say that the interview is rarely a deciding factor in whether someone is
admitted, that it only tends to confirm the overall impression they have obtained
from grades, test scores, teacher recommendations, and essays.
Still, the general attitude among students who want to get into the most
competitive schools seems to be that it can’t hurt. They want to take advantage of
any oppor tunity to make a personal impression on the admissions staff, to show
that they are more than just a set of test scores, that they have something special
to offer. You may feel this way yourself.
However, if you really freeze up in such situations, you may want to consider
skipping the interview rather than taking the chance of making a bad impression,
which the interviewer is likely to remember. If you do decide to have an
interview, be sure to prepare for it.
PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW
Most colleges consider the interview merely an oppor tunity to exchange
information with you. Even if you think you already have a pretty good picture of
the col lege, you should probably have one or two intelligent questions prepared
ones that are not covered in the cata log. You should also be prepared to talk
intelligently about your grades, test scores, and extracurricular ac tivitieswhen
In some cases the interviewer will be more interested in evaluating you,
comparing you with the kinds of stu dents the college likes to accept. He or she
may want to know how your interests, abilities, personality, and goals match up
with the college’s goals. The interviewer may be looking for that something
special that you have to offer.
The following questions are among those often asked by college interviewers.
Read them over and think of what your general approach would be to answering
them. Some suggestions as to how to think about each question are included.
Don’t have pat answers prepared; be ready for anything!
What kinds of self growth would you like to see in your self in the next four
years. You might talk about learning to set goals, taking responsibility for
yourself, learning about yourself as an individual and as a member of society,
gain ing historical perspective about today’s world (if you’re terested in history),
improving your communication trying out new ways of being and new ideas,
learn ing to relate to people with different backgrounds, learning to take risks, or
overcoming high school stereotypes starting over (or building on your past).
Choose one or two specific goals and really think about them so that you speak
honestly and intelligently about what you want expect.
If I visited your high school, what might I find as your in the community? This
question gives the interviewer sense of what special qualities you could contribute
to college community. Are you a person who simply to be a top student and
doesn’t tend to get involved other activities? Do you like to focus your energy on
one extracurricular activity, or do you participate in a of activities that represent
different sides of you. Do you spend a great deal of time and energy on social
activities? Are you a leader or a follower? Have afterschool jobs taken up much of
your time? Have you been actively involved in student government?
What might your teachers say is your greatest strength as a person and as a
student, and what are your weaknesses in each area? Be prepared to talk about
your weaknesses as well as your strengths, but you might also mention how you
have worked or hope to work to overcome such short comings. Are you a leader
who sparks classroom discus sions? Or do you have ideas that you hesitate to
express? Do you investigate subjects independently or do you stop at just
completing your homework? Are you too indepen dent sometimes? Are you
organized and disciplined? Do you tend to procrastinate or do you plan ahead?
Try to remember both the positive and somewhat negative things that people have
said about you, and be prepared to talk about changes and hopedfor changes.
What books or articles have you read in the last year that have had special
meaning for you’ Never pretend to have read something you have not or claim
that some thing was important to you if it was not. The best way to prepare for
this question is to read and search for books and articles that really touch you in
some way, that make you think about yourself and the world. See the reading list
What events or experiences in your life have been most crucial to you. ’ Do some
serious thinking about an event or experience that has really changed your way of
thinking. It might be something you did on your own or something you did with
other people. It might be something in which you were actively involved or
something you observed as a bystander. It might be a fleeting experience or one
that has developed over a long period of time. It might be an intense interest of
yours, a sudden recognition about someone or something familiar in your life,
something that did not turn out the way you expected, a family crisis, an
experience that tested you in new ways anything that has truly made a difference
in your life. Try to be as spe cific as possible in your memories and to focus on
how the experience influenced you.
What do you see as the good life for you twenty years from now? The interviewer
wants to know about your goals and values, who you would like to become. What
is your idea of success? Is having a home and family impor tant to you? Making a
lot of money? Where would you like to live? How would you like to invest your
time and en ergy? Do you see yourself behind a desk, climbing moun tains,
working with people, working alone? Are change and variety more important to
you than stability? If you could reach for a telephone and call anyone, dead or
alive, who would it be and why? Do you have a hero or heroine you admire? An
author? Would you call a friend, an enemy:, A world leader? A great musician?
Why? This question is another way at getting at what is most impor tant to you.
Last year we had ten thousand applicants and were able to accept only two
thousand. Why should we accept you? This question can really hit you hard if you
are not expect ing it. The interviewer is not trying to insult you, so do not take it
personally. He or she is simply stating the facts and allowing you to make the best
case you can for why you have something special to offer the college. What sets
you apart from others? Do you have a special talent or inter est? Are you good
with people? Are you a leader? Have you overcome a major handicap? Are you
very independent? Have you assumed an unusual amount of responsibility for
someone your age? Have you shown great initiative in setting up new activities or
in setting up your own busi ness? Are you an athlete? Are you especially
persistent? Loyal? Think hard about what you have to offer the col lege
Other similar questions: Have you ever thought of not goals to college and of
what you might choose to do instead? Ifl asked your best friend to describe you,
what would I hear? Describe your best friend. How do YOU see the role ofthe
sttldent on campus and in the commtinity? What, in your opinion, is a college
SURVIVING THE INTERVIEW
Contrary to some students’ expectations, most admissions interviewers are not
going to try to put you on the hot seat just to see you squirm. They may ask you
some tough questions, but if you have thought about these in advance, you will be
Admissions directors say the most important thing to do in an interview is to be
yourself. Remember, you will be interviewing the college at the same time the
college is interviewing you. Some colleges actually use the inter view as a
recruiting tool, a chance to persuade you to accept them. But be careful not to
judge the school by how charming or obnoxious the interviewer is. Remember,
even if you get into the school, you will probably never have any contact with the
admissions department again, so do not let the interviewer change your overall
positive or negative impression of a college.
Do not try to monopolize the conversation or have a “script in mind so that you
are constantly manipulating the interviewer to talk about the topics you have re
hearsed. Be prepared to talk about your accomplishments if asked, but do not
rattle on and on about them. In gen eral, it is not a good idea to make lots of
excuses for a poor record, but if there was some major handicap that held you
back, now is the time to bring it up. Never lie about or exaggerate your
accomplishments in an interview, but do know how to present yourself in the best
possible way. Finally, if you ave seriously interested in the school, make sure
your enthusiasm comes across, especially if the college is your first or second
choice. Colleges like to accept students who are likely to accept their offer of
AFTER THE VISIT: RATING THE COLLEGES AND MAKING YOUR
After you have visited the schools on your list, rate them on the following factors.
Use a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 as the top grade. Add up the points for each college.
Do the final scores reflect your gut impression of which are the best bets? If you
are applying to six schools, pick out the two reaches, the two reasonables, and the
two safeties that scored the highest. If you are applying to only three schools,
choose the topscoring school in each category. Discuss the results with your
parents and your college counselor. Are there any colleges on your final list that
your parents oppose? Are there any not on your list that they would like to see on
it? Is a compromise possible? If you will need financial aid, are the prospects for
receiving it good at the top colleges on your list? Is one of your “safety” schools
affordable without much financial aid? Put some time and effort into compiling
your final list. Applying to colleges is an expensive, energy draining, time
consuming process, so make sure the schools on your final list are ones that are
really worth the effort ones you really want to get into and attend. Then take a few
days off to relax before you take the plunge and start filling out your applications.
College Planning Calendar
Narrow your choices to the top three or so colleges in which you are most
Contact admissions offices to schedule campus visits.
If not already begun, start your search for private scholarships.
OCTOBER / NOVEMBER
Apply for admissions to the colleges in which you are most interested and
arrange for a campus visit.
Obtain financial aid information from those schools, make sure the information
explains available aid, application procedures and deadline dates.
Continue your search for private scholarships.
Attend college fairs and financial aid information nights. Check with you high
school counselor for details.
DECEMBER / JANUARY
Continue applying for admission to the colleges in which you are most
interested and arrange for a campus visit.
If not already begun, start your search for private scholarships, you're running
Attend college fairs and financial aid information nights.
Obtain the Free Application For Federal Student Aid from your high school
counselor or financial aid office(s), but do not complete it until after Jan. 1.
Collect family W-2's and initiate completion of federal tax returns used to
complete financial aid.
FEBRUARY / MARCH
If not already done, obtain the Free Application For Federal Student Aid from
your high school counselor or financial aid office(s).
If not already done, collect family W-2's and initiate completion of federal tax
returns used to complete financial aid appications.
Check to see if any of your potential colleges have financial aid application
deadlines for these months
Promptly respond to any requests for information from college admissions and
financial aid offices.
APRIL / MAY
Make your final decision on college attendance and notify the appropriate
admission office (if not done already). Notify those other schools to which you
applied for admission and financial aid that you don't plan to attend.
Promptly respond to any request for information from college admission and
financial aid office at the school which you have chosen.
Check to see if your school has its financial aid application deadline these
JUNE / JULY / AUGUST
Make sure final high school transcripts are sent to the college you plan to
Promptly respond to any request for information from college admission and
financial aid office at the school which you have chosen.
Call admissions office to verify all information is complete.
Attend orientation whenever offered.
Pick out your college wardrobe!
Finalize your budget for the academic year
Final preparation, it's the time you've been waiting for.
Common Essay Mistakes
While editing essays look for these common mistakes:
Not answering the question. Many applicants write quality essays but don't actually address
Not having a thesis. There should be a main idea or the essay will appear disorganized and
Topic that is too broad. A common mistake is to try to cover too much in the limited amount of
space. The essay should be focused and specific.
Mechanical errors. Admissions officers view spelling and grammatical errors as indicative that
applicants are not serious about their college applications.
Not revealing something about the author. Regardless of what the essay is about it needs to
reveal something about the author beyond what can be found in the application.
Being too ordinary. To stand out from the pile, encourage your child to write about a unique
topic or to approach a common topic in an original way.
Find out how to begin researching possible college options.
1. Application Fee: The required nonrefundable $50.00 application fee (payable to
the University of Connecticut) should be mailed to the Office of Undergraduate
Admissions with your social security number written on the check or money
order. The University of Connecticut accepts the College Board fee waiver.
2. High School Transcript(s): Your official high school transcript(s) should be sent
by your school directly to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The high
school transcript(s) should include your class rank, senior classes, and latest
grades completed; and for transfers, date of graduation.
3. Standardized Testing Results: You must submit official results of the SAT I or
ACT. These scores are not required of students who are 25 years or older or who
have completed 45 credits of college work at the time of application.
4. Recommendations: Optional letters of recommendation should be mailed to the
Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
5. College Transcript(s): All post-secondary official transcript(s) must be sent
directly from each institution attended to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions
whether or not credit is desired.
6. State High School Equivalency Diploma (GED): Submit a copy of the diploma
and complete set of scores and official transcript(s) of any work completed in
high schoolto the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
7. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): All international applicants
whose first language is not English must submit official results of the TOEFL. For
those U.S. citizens or permanent residents for whom English has not been the
primary language, the TOEFL can be a valuable supplement to the student's
8. Financial Aid Applicants: File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA). To meet UConn's "on-time" deadline, the FAFSA must be received at
the federal processing center by March 1. UConn's Federal school code is 001417.
Financial aid is not available for international students.
9. Music, Acting, Design/Technical Theatre and Puppetry Requirements:
Auditions are required for all Music, Puppetry and Acting applicants. To schedule
a Music Audition, call (860) 486-3728; to schedule a Puppetry Audition, call
(860) 486-4568; to schedule an Acting Audition, call (860) 486-4025. Acting
auditions are scheduled from December through early April. Admission decisions
for all programs will not be made until the results of the audition are submitted to
the Office of Undergraduate Admissions by the appropriate department.
Design/Technical Theatre applicants must participate in an interview process that
needs to be completed by March 1st. Please call (860) 486-4844 for details.
10. Art Majors: Applicants for the Art program are required to submit an art
portfolio by March 1. Upon receipt of their admission application, candidates will
be notified in writing of specific portfolio requirements by the Art Department.
Admission decisions for the Art program will not be made until the results of the
portfolio assessment are submitted by the Art Department to the Office of
11. Residency: Each applicant shall be classified as a Connecticut resident or
nonresident for the purpose of assessing tuition. This classification is determined
by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions based on the information provided in
the Tuition Residency Affidavit. Failure to complete the residency information
will result in a nonresident classification.
12. If you were previously admitted and enrolled at any campus of the University of
Connecticut as a degree student, do not submit this application. You should
contact Readmissions, Dean of Students Office, at (860) 486-3426.
13. Signature Explanation: By pressing the SUBMIT button, I certify that all items
on this application are answered correctly. I understand that incomplete
information, the withholding of information or incorrect information may
disqualify me for admission to the University of Connecticut or may later be the
basis for my withdrawal or dismissal. NOTE: After submitting this application, it
is the applicant's responsibility to advise the Admissions Office in writing of any
new information related to this application.
GENERAL TIPS FOR FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS
1. Apply early. For many highly competitive colleges, the deadline for applications is January 1. If you are
applying early action or early decision, it is even earlier. For others, the deadline is February 1 or before.
2. Know the exact application deadline for each college you plan to apply to and have your application
completed several weeks earlier than that date.
3. Some high schools prefer that you turn your application into the guidance office, where the other
necessary forms (transcripts, recommendations, etc. ) will be attached and the entire package mailed at the
same time. Please find out exactly what the policy is at your school, and be sure to give your completed
application to the guidance office several weeks in advance of the school's specified date.
4. Read all directions on the application thoroughly before you even think about filling it out.
5. Make one or two copies of each application form before you fill it out.
6.Practice filling out these copies first and save the original copy for your final draft.
7. Keep an application checklist for each college you are applying to.
8. Don't throw anything away instructions, correspondence, test results, addresses, etc. Losing an important
piece of paper could ruin all your careful planning.
9. Fill out the application neatly, accurately, and thoroughly. Type your application or print it neatly if you
have good handwriting. Remember, the point of your whole application is to create the best possible
impression, and a sloppily filled out form may be taken as a lack of respect or commitment or interest.
10. Make copies of the completed applications and any other important forms before you mail them to the
colleges or turn them in to your guidance office, whichever is the case.
11. Send your application by certified mail if possible so you will be automatically notified as soon as it is
received. You might include a stamped, self addressed postcard for the college to mail back to you when
they receive the application. In any case, if you do not receive confirmation that the application has been
received, write or phone the college to make sure the form has not been lost.
12. Remember to file financial aid forms by the dead line they are due.
Logout after each session. To help ensure the security of your
application, you must logout after each session. It is also highly
recommended that you close your browser after logging out.Read the
instructions pages first before starting work on your application.Double
check your work.Treat the online application just like you would a
paper application. Think carefully about each question, take your time
completing the application forms, and don't wait until the last minute to
begin.If your program requires the electronic submission of an
essay, you are encouraged to work on it beforehand in a word
processing program. Once you have reworked and revised it, copy and
paste the completed essay into your online application or upload the entire
essay as a document.To protect your application responses, please save
your work often. At the top and bottom of each form page are two buttons-
-"save" and "save & continue"--which, when pressed, store your responses to
the questions on that page in our database. The next time you visit the form,
your saved responses will appear. You are free to change your responses as
many times as you like until you have finally submitted your
application.When you submit your online application, it's like sealing the
envelope and dropping the package in a post office mailbox. At that point,
your information is en route to the institution. Thus, after submission, you
cannot change your application in any way through the online system
including the addition of letter of recommendation providers or deciding to
pay your application fee with a credit card (if available).Contact the
institution, not technical support, for application-related questions
concerning deadlines, academic programs, financial aid, and/or housing.
Best of luck in the application process!
Filling Out Applications
After you have received your applications:
1. Read each application and accompanying instructions carefully.
2. Xerox each application first so that you will have a practice copy from which to
work when you fill out the actual application.
3. Bring applications to Mr. Moss or to your college advisor for advice or help if
you need it before you actually fill them out.
4. Working from your practice copy, fill out each application; print or type neatly
and legibly. Remember that colleges form their initial impression of you from
your application - and their impressions can affect their decision. Be neat! The
colleges and universities want to see how you follow instructions, answer
questions, and pay attention to detail.
5. Write your name in pencil on every part of the application, especially on
recommendation forms and mid-year report forms.
6. Make a copy of any essays that you write on an application in case they are lost or
in case you need to do a similar essay for another college. Keep a copy of your
7. Many applications will include teacher recommendation forms in addition to
the School or Counselor's recommendation form. Give to your college advisor
the xeroxed copy of the forms marked "Counselor or Principal," "College
Advisor," "School Official," or "Secondary School Report". If there is only one
recommendation form, it is to be filled out by your college advisor rather than
one of your other teachers. Fill out the top part of each recommendation form
with your name, address, social security number, signature and/or whatever other
information is required and, then xerox each form. Give the originals to Mrs.
Dellinger in Mr. Moss' office! Tell her which teacher you intend to give each
form to, and then give the xeroxed copies of the teacher recommendation forms
to those teachers who you feel can write you a strong recommendation. Be sure
that your name is on each form. Politely ask your teachers to write these
recommendations for you, and be sure to give them plenty of notice. Do not
expect them to do these for you at the last minute. If you wish for a teacher to
write several recommendations for you, give him/her all of the forms together at
one time. If you decide not to apply to a particular college after all, let the
teachers know before they have spent hours writing recommendations that will
not be needed. Be sure to ask your teachers to turn in all recommendations to
Mr. Moss' office for typing and mailing with your transcripts.
8. If the application requires your parent's or guardian's signature, be sure to get it
before you submit the application. Boarding students may have Mr. Neville sign
if a parent signature is not available.
9. It is your responsibility to provide checks or money orders in the amounts
stipulated by the colleges and universities. These may not be charged to the
parents' account, and most institutions request that you not send cash.
10. After you have completed your application, take it to Mrs. Dellinger in Mr.
Moss' office with the necessary application fee - a check or money order payable
to the college or university. Mrs. Dellinger will check your application and send it
and the fee to the college or university, along with a preliminary transcript,
recommendations, and supporting documents. Don't mail it yourself and don't
let your parents do it. If you or they mail it, then the School has no record of
when and where you have applied and, consequently, doesn't send your transcript
or other supporting materials. As a result, the whole application process is slowed
11. When you turn in your application, you will sign a release form authorizing
Darlington to release your transcript and any other documents or information
about you requested by the colleges to which you apply.
12. If you choose to apply online, print a copy of your application (if you are able to
do so) and turn it to Mrs. Dellinger, just as you would a paper application. If you
are not able to print a copy, please see Mrs. Dellinger to fill in Darlington's
required form. In order to generate Darlington's paperwork for your application,
whether a paper application or an on-line application, you must fill in
Darlington's application information form and sign the transcript release form
before Darlington will process your application or any paperwork related to it.
This must be done by the School's deadline.
13. Once a release has been authorized, Mr. Moss will send your transcript and
supporting materials with your application to the colleges and universities you
have chosen. If you wish or need to have a supplementary transcript or update
sent at any time later in the year, give your request to Mr. Moss in writing. Also,
turn in the end-of-year and mid-year report forms which many colleges require.
14. All applications for state university systems are due to Mr. Moss' office by
15. All Early Decision applications are due in to Moss' office by October 15.
16. By late October, you should have turned in at least one application.
17. All of your applications should be turned in by the day that you return from
College application forms are as different as the institutions that require
them. Some application forms are as simple as both sides of one piece of
paper. Others look like a small book, with many pages. I have seen some
college applications that are 23 pages long, requiring six written statements
from the student as well as the usual teacher recommendations and other
details. The answer to your question, then, is that it takes anywhere from 30
minutes to a week or so of evenings (or longer) to fill out college
As with resumes and job application letters, neatness is a very important
factor of your application. The majority of colleges will have no problem with
a hand-written application as long as it's readable and free from smudges
and erasures. Typing is always a sure way to make a good impression. If you
have a computer with a laser or bubble-jet printer--and you know how to use
it--you can make an extremely strong impression by formatting your
application pages for computer printing.
One of the most important--and most frequently underestimated--is the
letter of recommendation.
Some colleges only require one. Others may require two from teachers and
one from your counselor. Keeping track of all these administrative details can
make the submission of a complex application a very challenging