7 Tips to Jump-Start the College Application Process

August 23, 2011. “The calendar may say August, but it is not too early to begin thinking about—and working on—college applications,” says Peter Van Buskirk in U.S. News and World Report.  His six steps for getting organized are:

1. Develop a timeline, 2. Create a college spreadsheet, 3. Establish a filing system for application materials, 4. Collect applications from colleges likely to be on your short list, 5. List the essay topics required by each school, 6. Think about the key messages that you want to convey, 7. Develop a resume.

I want to comment  on # 3 at this time — Listing the essay topics. The best way to do this is:

a. In a computer file, start a list of the colleges you are interested in.

b.  Look up each school on the Internet and find its undergraduate application.  In your essay file, underneath the name of each college, copy and paste the exact essay requirements from the application, including word length requirements.

c.  You will have three types of essays for colleges (note that not all colleges require essays). The first type is the common app essay, which is accepted by 456 colleges. However, many colleges (such as University of Michigan) require the common app essay and supplemental essays unique to their school.  Third, some colleges (such as Michigan State University) have their own essay requirements. You may also have some short questions, which, like essays, require thought.

d.  Review the list.  Which essay questions overlap?  How do word length requirements differ? Mark up your list with your notes to answer these questions.

e.  Start brainstorming, and writing lists of topics for these essay prompts.  The best ideas are unique, reveal your strongest qualities, tell a true story about something you care about, and appeal to you as a writing topic.  If you don’t want to write about it, why would anyone want to read about it?  For more information on this, read Solving the College Admissions Puzzle, review the information at essaycoaching.com and contact debbie@essaycoaching.com for a free consultation.