The Real Secret to a Winning College Application

successful college application

College hopefuls are all too eager to discover the secrets to completing a great college essay. They fervently search the web, buy college prep books, and invest in tutors in hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the college application process.

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While it’s a good idea to seek guidance and receive tips during such a stressful process, students often waste time and increase their anxiety by approaching college applications like puzzles with secret codes. The real secret to finishing a successful college application is simple: there are no elaborate secrets!

The truth is that a great college application is achievable if students acknowledge that it’s a subjective form to be completed and not a complicated equation to be solved.  If you’re a student worried about your college applications, here are some simple, but often overlooked, tips on how to finish them effectively:

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Know Yourself, Know the School

Regardless of where you are applying, it’s vital to know your own strengths and believe in yourself as an asset to the school that you want to attend. You need to be self-aware of your greatest qualities as a student so that you can articulate them in your application.

It’s necessary to ask yourself why you want to attend a specific college—why you think it’s a good fit for you—if you want to prove your value as a potential future student. If you apply to a college without addressing why exactly you want to go there or what they have to offer you, then you’ll come off as ambivalent rather than assured on your application. Properly researching and assessing each college you’re applying to will help you express why you should be admitted.

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Once you believe in your own self-worth as a student and you’re certain that you’re applying to a good school for you, then you’ll be able to complete a solid application. For instance, if you’re applying to an art school that cares more about your creativity than your SAT scores, just believe in your artistic skills and focus on assembling a great portfolio. By matching your qualities with the school’s offerings, you’ll be able to emphasize the potential for a positive reciprocal or equal give and take relationship on your application.

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Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected

You want schools to find you desirable so don’t doubt yourself or your ability to excel in college. Admission boards will sense uncertainty in your writing, if you allow insecurity or stress to overtake you during the application process. Stay levelheaded and pragmatic by remembering that there’s no exact formula to completing your application. Instead of pressuring yourself to find a theoretically perfect procedure to the process, spend your time and energy on being clear and sincere. Give colleges the opportunity to get to know you so that the right college for you can find and admit you.

Javaher Nooryani is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. She has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in English & American Literature from NYU. As a former private tutor and college prep advisor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is happy to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college. You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.



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