A Senior’s Advice to Rising Juniors for the College Admissions Process


Dea Veshaj, Staff Writer

I unhealthily stressed about college and applications in my senior year of high school. I learned a lot about the process by talking with my friends, teachers, advisors, parents, etc. As a current second-semester senior who has committed to a college already, I realized that there were some pitfalls I had or stress that I dealt with that could have been mitigated. 


  1. Find a Niche that you can fit into for your college application 

A niche can be anything, but it has to be consistent with the theme of your application. College admissions officers spend a limited amount of time on your application, so you should make sure that they remember you quickly. For example, writing about identity and how that impacts you and how learning more about it will teach you about the world and engaging in clubs that involve identity. Maybe it can be about political activism: being in MYLC, wanting to major in Poli Sci, or how current events made you want to engage in your civic duty to defend others. Whatever angle you choose, just make sure it can be well seen throughout your application and tailor your application to some themes about your personality. 


  1. Start Your Application in the Summer 

When you write your essay, it needs to highlight the best parts of yourself. You are selling yourself to college admissions officers. It has to be the ideal pitch of YOU. Writing the essay in the summer removes one of the largest hurdles of the common application. It also frees up time to focus more on your school work or writing supplementals to other colleges. 


  1. Apply for Financial Aid ASAP 

Some schools give more aid to students who get their financial aid deadlines earlier. Get the most financial aid possible and fill out your FAFSA, CSS Profile, or any other information that the university may request from you. 


  1. There is no set number of colleges you should apply to 

Everybody has different priorities and goals when it comes to college applications. The most elite school may not be the best option, or perhaps you just simply don’t care about it. That is perfectly valid and fine! If you want to apply to three colleges that you are 99% sure you would want to attend, then you don’t need to apply to any more. If you are aiming for a more selective college like a top 20, apply to as many colleges as possible. Top colleges have been receiving so many qualified applicants that it has become a lottery on who gets accepted, it can be disappointing too. If it is within your means, apply to as many colleges as possible. One of my friends got rejected from a top 20 school and then got accepted into an Ivy; they applied to over 30. 


  1. Mid Year Grades are Important

Colleges want to make sure that you will keep up with the academic rigor of their school and if you’re failing your elective class, you are giving yourself a bad look to these colleges. However, getting one or two B’s will not significantly alter your chances at getting accepted into the college of your dreams. They understand that you are seniors and have other obligations. 


  1. The “Super-safety” 

Apply to at least one college in early action that you know you will be accepted into (the 70-90% acceptance range). The reason for this is to keep your peace of mind. It’s quite nerve wracking to see that you haven’t gotten accepted into a college that you want to go to, so having a super-safety guarantees that you have a place to go. Senior year is stressful, and having one backup can help to lessen that stress.  


  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help 

Whether it means having a bad mental health day, being stressed about your grades, or worried about where you will end up, find someone to talk to about your problems. There is always going to be someone who is willing to help your cause and try to get you through this difficult time. Also, the process itself of applying to colleges needs a helping hand to properly complete. Ask friends who have applied to colleges to help with your essay, or a trusted teacher. They will give feedback on issues that you initially did not see. Ask them in advance though, so they are not rushed and can give you good feedback. 


Being a first semester senior is one of the hardest times in high school, but after that it’s a breeze. And in the end, remember that you will end up where you belong regardless of where you get accepted.