All of this college application stuff can take its toll on your physical, emotional, and psychological health. Remember to take some time for you. Go for a run, watch a movie, or spend time with friends and family. It’s okay…you can tell your parents I told you to do this, and I am a bona fide Admissions Counselor who reads applications and votes on application decisions. At Holy Cross, we believe that a relaxed applicant is a confident applicant. This is not the crossroads of your life, even though it may seem that way at times. You are not defined by where you get accepted (or rejected…or waitlisted). You can always transfer, go to graduate school, take a gap year, or better…..become successful despite not getting into your top pick, and end up putting your alma mater on the map as a result. What truly defines you as a person is not what cards you are dealt, but how you play them. You will play yours most efficiently if you are able to roll with the punches and take everything in stride. Keeping the college search in perspective is probably the most important piece of that!
Reaching out to teachers and counselors for letters of recommendation or advice early helps both you and them. Teachers and counselors get busy during the year and it would advantageous to ask them ahead of time.
At least two letters of recommendation are application requirements for most schools. These letters are important and can help us learn a lot about applicants that we wouldn’t otherwise have known: “Cecil had a rough junior year because we implemented a new social studies curriculum, and we noticed grades drop for many of the students. Still, he remained in the top 10% of his class.” Or, “Kelly stopped playing soccer last fall because she has been volunteering with student council and spends 10 hours after school each week planning and organizing activities for their annual holiday bazaar.”
There’s nothing worse than a flat letter of recommendation. “Mike was always on time and prepared for class.” Yawn. Is this the best praise you can get from your teachers? We expect you to be on time and prepared. Show us how you went above and beyond expectations. This means asking a teacher who really KNOWS you and can vouch for all the hard work you put in both in and outside of the classroom. Really put some thought into your selection. Maybe spend some time with that person before the letter is written to give him/her/them a better sense of who you are as a student and a person. You want their words to be glowing! Also, please remember to ask for a recommendation early. You want to make sure to give them enough time to write the letter– your teachers, counselors, and coaches are all very busy people!
In the application process, it’s important to indicate your interest in the school(s) to which you are applying. Get (and keep) in contact with the colleges you are interested in. Contact can be in person, through a formal or informal visit to the school (be sure to sign-in with the office), via phone or email.
If we see that applicants have been in contact with us then we are going to have a better sense of their interest in the College. Psychology and propinquity theory are at work here…even on a subconscious level.
So get in our heads…for the right reasons, and stay informed of new developments at the school as well as possible updates to the application process that we may announce. It’s easy to do and the returns are well worth it!
Summer is a great time to research important dates and information regarding admissions (such as application deadlines, financial aid requirements, and/or test optional policies). Make sure you are aware of all of these key pieces of information–particularly deadlines–as they will likely be different for each of the schools to which you are applying.
For example, does a school on your list recommend interviewing? At the College of the Holy Cross, we love it when students interview! It gives us a chance to get to know our applicants better, and it gives them a chance to get to know us as well. Try to schedule an interview early on in the process to ensure you get an appointment that fits in with your schedule.
Additionally, is your school test optional? Think carefully about whether or not your testing reflects positively on your application. If your test scores reflect your academic ability, then please do feel free to send them. Know that at Holy Cross, we do not require that applicants submit test scores, nor do we penalize students who choose not to submit test scores.
Finally, if you are ever unsure about any piece of information, definitely reach out to the Admissions Office at the school to which you are applying (email is great!). It will guarantee you have the correct information, and it will show more demonstrated interest on your part. Win-win!
Visit, visit, visit! You may not know what you are looking for in a college until you have seen a few up close in personal. You don’t know what you don’t know, and visiting is a great way to expose yourself to all the things a college has (or does not have) to offer. Sometimes visiting colleges may be easier than expected. Maybe you are on your way to the beach and you pass by a college campus…take a look! You never know what may happen: you may like it, but if you do not, it will give you context for the types of schools that would be a better fit.
So, sign up for a tour, go to an info session, listen to the questions other people ask, and think about whether they are important to you. Maybe even use a few of those questions for your next tour at a different school (we won’t tell!). Here at Holy Cross, we offer July Advisory Days (JAD) during which you can learn about what to do to ensure a successful interview as well as how to start cultivating your personal statement.
Visiting campus is a huge part of what is known as demonstrated interest, which is something colleges (Holy Cross especially) take quite seriously. So take the time, if you are able, to see schools and learn more about what they could offer you! We will be here, ready to show you our campus and tell you more about our community.
As we shift our focus from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022, it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors. We recognize that juniors are narrowing their colleges lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles with helpful information for students as they begin their college application process.
What qualities do you want in a school? How far away from home would you like to be? Do you want to commute and live at home or would you like to be 3,000mi away? What types of activities would you like to continue in college or try? Think about all of the lifestyle habits you would like to keep or try and make sure those activities are included in your search process. Would you like to live on campus or commute? Keep in mind of the opportunities outside of campus as well. How will this school help me with internship/job/alumni networking opportunities? You have a lot to ponder but it’s best to start somewhere. Here are some points to consider: