5. Senior grades DO matter.
After you’ve applied, your grades don’t matter anymore … right? Wrong! Colleges have caught on to students who think they can stop doing homework after those applications have been sent in, and many now require you to send in your final grades after you’ve been wait-listed or accepted. “The number one thing that I didn’t realize when I was applying to college was that senior grades do count,” says Lauren Ruvo. “I was wait-listed at Boston College (my number one school) and would constantly send them updates about my grades as well as any awards I won towards the end of the year. Fortunately, I got off the waitlist and am starting my second year here. I am so grateful that I kept my grades up senior year, but I wouldn’t have thought it would be as important as it was.”
You may think you deserve to skip the Shakespeare and catch up on Gossip Girl, but you need to keep your grades up after you’ve applied – or risk having your acceptance rescinded. While UNC-Chapel Hill student Meghan didn’t have her acceptance revoked from UNC-CH, she did get a scary reminder senior year about how important her grades were. “I was pulling a C in AP Physics senior year and got a letter from UNC saying if I didn’t fix it, they would revoke my acceptance. It scared me into keeping my grades up.” Yes, it can be difficult to keep up the motivation in the face of senioritis, but we promise you it’s worth it.
4. Consider Early Decision II.
You’ve probably heard of early decision and early action, but have you heard of early decision II? This option, provided by some colleges, is similar to early decision in that if you are accepted, it is a binding agreement. The difference is that you apply later than early decision (December or January) and receive a decision later (usually in early February). Applying early decision II is great in that it gives you more time to research and visit schools and make sure the school you’re applying to is your first choice. As with early decision and early action, early decision II allows you to hear back from a college earlier than if you applied at the regular time, and as a result, you will most likely have the college application process over with sooner. More time to party, right? Just kidding – see tip #5.
3. Your parents will probably be more involved than you think they will be.
Let’s face it: Our parents raised us and are in our lives – whether or not we like it. Even though you are so close to freedom, you’re still living with your parents and are following their rules. Because your parents are so involved in your everyday life, they will also be involved in your application process – every step of the way. Your dad may want you to apply to his alma mater, or your mom may want you to apply to the school where she always dreamed of going. Yes, they can be annoying, but your parents can also be helpful. Whether they are paying for college or are trying to show you what schools are out there, just remember they are trying to help you. Take a deep breath and smile every time they remind you about application deadlines or essays, and make sure to be patient. The application process is already stressful, and the more impatient you are with your parents, the more difficult it’s going to be.
2. You may doubt yourself and everything you have done in high school.
As you fill out your college applications, you may think that the Spanish club and the school play aren’t enough to get you accepted. “Applying to college definitely made me doubt myself,” says Katherine from Northwestern. “I started applying, and then I started thinking that I hadn’t done enough in high school and that everyone else did way more activities and took way more honors classes and were just generally way more awesome than me. It was stupid because I had already done everything I could do, so what was the point of doubting myself?”
Don’t stress out and make your four years of hard work seem meaningless. Everyone has different strengths and interests, and it’s important to play up what makes you unique. Sure, you may only have one club to put on your application, but maybe you became the president – this does not go unnoticed. So don’t waste time feeling down about yourself; as Katherine says, “You should focus on how fantastic you are, so you can explain it well in the applications.”
1. No matter what, this is your decision.
As we said, the one thing people will tell you over and over again as you’re applying to schools is what college you should go to. While this advice can be helpful and make you look into a school you otherwise wouldn’t have, remember to apply to and choose the school you love the most. You are the one who will be attending this school for the next four years, so make sure you love it. It can be easy to say you will do this, but it can be harder to do once acceptance letters arrive. No matter what people tell you, your opinion is the one that matters the most. Shut everyone and all of their expectations out when it comes time to make a decision. Even if you choose a school your parents or friends initially don’t like, they will most likely come to love it as much as you do.
Luckily you have a few months to go, but it’s important to prepare yourself ahead of time for the possibility of having to make a tough decision. Applying to college is certainly not easy, but these tips will get you ready to complete those applications and make your decision with confidence. So turn off the TV, put on some Taylor Swift (who else better understands the pain of having to make a tough decision?), and start outlining those application essays. Just don’t write about Taylor Swift – unless you have something really insightful to say.