SOURCE: National Association of College Admissions Counselors
In an admissions report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Education Council the following reminder was given to future applicants:
"People do not apply to colleges; folders do. The folder and application are a single opportunity to influence process. Approach each aspect of the application as an opportunity. Devote time and thought to each of the various portions."
As you think about your folder circulating among an admissions committee, consider the following:
1. Read every word of the directions before you even print your name.
2. Demonstrate your best work - something of which you can be proud.
3. Essays should be error-free, thoughtful, logical and organized. Do not overreach. Use comfortable vocabulary. Be yourself. "The essay should say something the rest of the application doesn't say, or at least should elaborate on something the application barely suggests; a talent, an interest, thought on world or local problems, a personal accomplishment."
4. Do not write what you think the admissions office wants. The committee reading your application wants to know you - whatever you think and do. No matter how ordinary you feel, your folder represents a different individual from all the others.
5. Use specific examples when describing your interests and achievements. Explain your involvement - why the things you chose to discuss are important to you. It is better to emphasize the degree of involvement in a few activities than a long list of superficial interests.
6. Why are you going to college? To learn? To learn what? Why? A college should be convinced that you truly want an education. Avoid simplistic answers and reasons. If you want to be an engineer, for example, cite some experience from your own life of deed and thought that led you to this present choice.
7. If humor is part of your style, feel free to use it.
8. Typing or printing is acceptable. In some cases you will be required to write an essay in your own handwriting. Neatness and legibility are obviously essential.
9. Proofread. Spelling errors are unacceptable.
10. Photo copies (clear ones) are perfectly acceptable, but sign each one individually. Your name should be on each page or article submitted in addition to the applications.
11. Proofread again!
Additional Important Tips -- SENIOR YEAR (SENIORITIS)
1. Colleges pay close attention to choice of senior year courses and to performance in the seventh semester of high school. Hence it is not wise to "lighten up" in the senior year. An upward trend in the senior year can be helpful in the admissions process whereas a senior year slump can be extremely detrimental.
2. Colleges reserve the right to revoke offers of admission or to put matriculating students on academic probation if eighth semester grades should fall dramatically. Avoid dramatic changes in effort during the last semester.
3. Be sure to inform your college counselor if a college notifies you that your file is incomplete.
4. Thank your teachers for writing letters of recommendation, preferably with a card or note. (It is a very time-consuming task.)
5. You will be invited to attend informal meeting/receptions hosted by the colleges to which you are applying. If you have been asked to RSVP please do so. If you have responded affirmatively and cannot make it, contact your host and let him/her know of your change in plans. If there is a sign-in sheet at the reception, use it.
6. As a courtesy to the colleges please respond either affirmatively or negatively to their offers of admission in writing. Do so within the time allotted for such a response.
7. The admissions process is very much a process of relationship building. Many colleges base their decisions on their perceptions of the applicant’s interest in their school. Be sure you build and maintain a relationship with the schools you are applying to as much as possible and contact with the school until you have received a decision letter.
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