9 Last-Minute College Application Secrets

last minute college application secretsBy Dean Tsouvalas
StudentAdvisor.com Editor-in-Chief

So you left your college applications to the last minute, eh? While you may be scrambling or at a loss for what you should be doing – you still have the opportunity to get into a great college! Despite many general and priority application deadlines coming up around the corner for several US colleges – there’s still time left for you procrastinators to get it together!

But just because time isn’t on your side doesn’t give you an excuse to put together a sloppy application.  Here are StudentAdvisor’s 9 secrets for “last-minute” college applicants:

1. Use an appropriate e-mail address.

Most communication with potential colleges is done via email.  Would you want admissions officers to contact you at sexykitten@voodoo.com?

The admissions decision process begins before you even apply.  An email account like that just begs the admissions officer to Google you or worse – not consider you a serious applicant.

2. Clean up your social media presence BEFORE submitting your applications.

Several social media savvy colleges are out there engaging with students on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. It’s a great idea to “Like” them or “Follow” them if you’re interested, but once they get that notification, they may peruse your posts or photos.

3. DON’T let your parents “help” fill out your applications.

Believe it or not parents, admissions can tell when who actually wrote the student essay or application. While some parents might want to “come to your rescue” in helping you beat the time crunch and make the application deadline, it’s best that they stay on the sideline until it’s time to get someone to proofread your app.

4. Use the Universal College Application or Common App to save time!

Thanks to the Universal College Application and Common App it’s easy to apply to multiple schools at once. If you’re applying to more than one school that accepts either it will save you a lot of time filling out forms. Although the Universal College Application and Common are thought to be “one-size-fits-all” tools, don’t be fooled.

Today, many schools have supplemental questions and they are your chance to give specific reasons for wanting to attend that school and show how you’ve engaged with it. 25% of students apply to over 7 schools and in 2010 almost 2.5 million applications were submitted via the Common App Online. In the 2011 State of College Admissions Report (survey of incoming class of 2011 from admissions staff), your “Direct Intent” to attend school is as valuable as your class rank. Show your direct interest in the school by incorporating that you’ve visited the campus, talked with current students or faculty members.

5. Don’t forget about sending your test scores!

When you’re chomping at the bit to write the perfect essay and get your recommendations in it’s easy to forget about those standardized test scores. Don’t forget to send your SAT or ACT results to each school you’re applying to – it’s a good idea to send them right after you submit your application.

6. Empower your references – Choose Wisely!

It’s never fun to ask someone to write a letter of recommendation at the last minute. Since you’re not giving your letter writers much lead time it may be a good idea to give them an outline of some accomplishments and challenges you’ve met that they can use as a reference. Not only will this help with their turnaround time, but it may also make up for the fact that you’re asking the late in the game. And don’t forget to thank them when you’re done your applications!

7. Take your time to write a great college essay.

It may say “optional” but it really means mandatory, especially in such a competitive time for college applicants. Sometimes the essay makes all the difference between “accepted” and “rejected”.

8. Talk like the colleges talk.

It’s essential that you gain insight about the schools that you are interested in by regularly checking their social media before, during and after you submit your applications.  You should know what the hot button issues are at each school from their Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.

9. Have someone else proofread your application.

Sometimes it’s tough to catch your own mistakes. Have a fresh set of eyes that you trust review your application for spelling or grammatical errors. For your essays don’t forget to check and see if you actually answered the prompt. When you’re rushing to complete your applications it’s quite easy to get off topic without noticing!