Preparing for College Applications

1. Make a college account from the college application and keep track of your login info.

You must use an email address to create an account. Be sure to register with an email that you check regularly, as colleges will use that email to contact you. Also, make sure to write down the password as well as the email address you use to register so you do not forget.

Best Student Tip: Create a new email address that is separate from your RJUSD or personal emails. That way you only get emails from the colleges, scholarships and financial aid.

2. Check your email regularly. It’s worth repeating. Colleges will use your email to send you application reminders, and many will also send instructions for creating your own application portal, where you can see if your application is complete on their end, and if it’s not, what’s missing.

3. Use a calendar to keep track of all dates and deadlines.

Application deadlines are not flexible. You must complete your entire application, in addition to submitting any supplemental materials, by the college’s deadline. Consider using an old-fashioned wall or desk calendar placed in a “can’t miss” location. Alternatively, enter deadlines into your phone calendar, and set up alerts as the deadlines approach.

4. Start a folder for each school you are applying to.

Either on your computer or in a physical folder, keep all the printed materials, notes, correspondence, passwords, and photos together.

5. Fine-tune your college essays and supplemental essays (if the college application is requesting essay responses)

Most schools require students to write at least one essay (the main Common App essay, also known as the Personal Statement; or the UC Personal Insight Questions {PIQs}). We strongly recommend that students write all supplemental essays even if the college says that they are optional. Optional essays are not really optional, and not answering them sends a negative message about your work ethic and interest in the college.

6. Review your application carefully and keep track of your progress.

Small, silly mistakes will not reflect well on you as an applicant. Take your time filling out each section. Students can preview each part, section by section, to make sure they’ve completed what is asked of them. When you have completed and submitted all the college’s requirements, you should double check and use the preview button of each application to check for errors. We strongly recommend printing out the application and reviewing it on paper, a step that many students overlook. Also, have a credit card ready to pay the application fee if you are not eligible for the online college application fee waiver. For questions about fee waivers, contact Mrs. Fukuda.

7. Print records and take screenshots.

Whenever you send an email to a school or interviewer, or receive a response, print it out (or take a screenshot) and add it to the appropriate folder. Take screenshots of completed applications and confirmations once you receive them. One of our students used a screenshot to prove his application was not late…and it worked! It’s best to keep all this together in one place.

8. Set manageable goals.

Whatever you do, do not plan to complete the application in one night or even one weekend. It’s going to feel overwhelming, and chances of making mistakes will increase exponentially. Set reminders for all dates and deadlines, including when to contact teachers, counselors, and coaches who are writing recommendations. If you have not already, start now and set time aside to really work on your essays. Leave no stone unturned; proofread the application multiple times before you send it, and have someone else proofread it as well.

-Excerpt from International College Counselors