Applying to College 101

The season of college acceptance letters is here, and college applications are fresh on the minds of many a junior for the first time. Here’s some tips from a senior to start you college application journey.

Where do I start?

Firstly, consider what you want from your college experience.

Do you want to go to a big or small school? Are you more concerned about social life, or academics? Want to go to huge sports games?

These are some questions you should ask yourself when beginning to make your list. 

Here’s a list of things different universities can provide that you can rank.


Academics (overall rigor and course quality, optics of intended major)

Nice campus

Greek life

Larger environment- climate, city, rural, distance, etc.

Student organizations

Financial aid

Study abroad programs

Choosing colleges

Now that you have what matters, go to and enter the keywords for what matters most to you. Make a list of 5-10 universities to really look into. Go on their websites, look up other student’s experiences, watch YouTube videos about them, etc. From this, rank the schools you’re interested in.

Where to apply?

Firstly, consider if any school has stood out to you so much that you want to apply early decision. This means you cannot go to any other school if  your application is accepted, but it helps your acceptance rate. Make sure you absolutely want to go to this school!

Once you have made that decision, finalize your list of schools to apply to. Apply to at least three schools, preferably five or more.

Tour, tour, tour!

If you can tour any of the schools on your list, definitely take advantage of that! You simply can’t google the feeling of actually being there and seeing the day-to-day life that takes place there. This will definitely help your final rankings as well.

Crafting the application

The best advice I can think of for this whole process is to ask for help. Specifically, from your teachers. While this is the first, and likely only time you will create a college application, they have probably worked on hundreds, and know what works and what doesn’t. Any teacher you really trust can help you, specifically English teachers to make sure those essays are polished. I’d have at least two teachers who know you well look over your application.

Now what?

It’s out of your hands now, so try to keep your mind off it and focus on the day-to-day. Remember, your college experience is what you make of it, and even if you don’t get your first choices, every college has something good and unique to offer.

Start sooner rather than later

This is your sign! I pushed off my college applications for a long time, which cost me. I specifically regretted only having time to tour one school, so try to get in as many of those as you can. The more time you have to think about the application process, specifically the essays, the more you can work on what to include. Good luck!