The Bulldog Reporter

The Student News Site of Hopewell Valley Central High School

The Bulldog Reporter

The Bulldog Reporter

Seniors’ College Application Tips


It’s that time of year again: APs are over, the seniors have mentally checked out, and between parents, teachers, and the 10,000 college advertisements flooding their inboxes, the juniors seem to be tasked with looking ahead. As a parting “gift” of sorts, the senior writers on the newspaper staff worked together to narrow down the most important tips and advice to pass on.

#1: Start early. As tough as it seems to focus, especially with classes winding down, take the practice college essays you may be writing in English class seriously- it gives you the time to explore different topics, understand your writing voice, revise, and relax. On that note, if you’re struggling with how to respond to the prompts and just write about yourself in general, you can always brainstorm your response to the prompts aloud and record your brainstorming as voice memos. This will help you get a sense of what your voice is and ease you into writing about yourself.

#2: Do the easy stuff first! Plugging in classes and grades from your transcript or filling out basic personal, residential, or financial information in application programs like CommonApp is simple; however, doing this over the summer saves time you can spend relaxing, refining supplemental essays, and getting eight hours of sleep even on October or December 31st.

#3: If you haven’t yet asked for recommendation letters, do it now! No teacher can write a letter for every single one of their students, and requesting one early is not only polite but also the best way to get a recommendation letter from a teacher that knows you well.

#4: Keep track of the specific application portals, supplemental essays, and anything else you may need for your top schools. Organize them in a spreadsheet/notebook/whatever helps you remember these bits and pieces of the college application process.

#5: Look for schools that feel right for YOU— that is, schools you want to attend not because of the “prestige,” nor because your parents or friends or anyone else is pushing for them, but because you believe you will fit in and be happy there. This is definitely easier said than done, seeing as the entire world seems to focus solely on prestige. However, we all value different things the most when looking for colleges—programs, internships, environment, location—and it’s important to remember that your needs as an individual take priority over social perception.

#6: Acknowledge the inherent uncertainty of the process. There is no GPA, resume, or essay that will guarantee admission to any given university. On that note, apply to a couple of schools that you could enjoy, rather than depending on the idea of getting into a single “dream” school to feel content! (Related tip: resist the urge to compare your test scores, GPA, extracurriculars, etc. against others. No number, no essay, and, at the end of the day, no college application determines your “worth.”) 

Ultimately, having gone through the application process, we can confirm that life goes on no matter what happens. College, for those who do choose to attend, isn’t everything. And as much as it may feel like the world is asking you to plot out the entire rest of your life, remember that the next few years are a single step, not the whole journey.

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    Caleb J FowlerSep 12, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks, for the article! These tips helped me get!