As a College Counselor I get asked all sorts of questions about how to fill out a college application. If you are serious about your application then putting some time into into the application is a good idea. I gathered some of my top tips on completing a solid college application. Check them off as you go through the process:

1. Follow the directions: The guidelines in the applications are not flexible, if it says 500 word essay, it does not mean 510 or 450.
2. Answer the questions: Go back over the questions and be sure that you have actually answered it instead of going on different tangent. Ask yourself, “did I answer the question?”
3. Take it slow: Rushing through the application will produce errors. Allow yourself plenty of time and then some extra. Start on it, pause and save and come back later. Stay fresh. Go for a walk or run.
4. Deadlines: The deadlines are firm. Send them in early. Get your test scores and letters of rec in early too. The deadline is for the whole packet, not just the application.Teachers need a a few months notice to write your rec letters.
5. Triple check: Make sure you use spell check and put the correct college name in your supplemental essays that ask “why this college?” Read it over and over and ask others to read it too.
6. Fill it out yourself: This is your job, not a parent’s job. This is your first step into adult responsibilities, take it on! (and colleges can tell if it is not your work)
7. Organize: make a folder for each school. Mark your calendar for deadlines and set alarms to remind you a week beforehand. Keep all emails and communications in the school specific file.
8. Activity List: List them according to how you value those activities. Most hours spent goes on top.
9. Social Networking: I know you may have heard this before, but, keep it clean. Go over all of your accounts and get rid of questionable material. Also, if you say you are a rower, for example, there had better be some rowing evidence on your social media.