Tips for Completing Your College Applications and Essays

At Coastal College Counseling we are committed to the individuality of our students. As such, we work hard with each and every one of them to make sure their voice is present throughout their applications and essays.

Follow these 7 simple steps to get the most out of yours!

1.) Take Your Time: There's no need to rush. If you slow down, you're much less likely to make a mistake or omit something important about yourself. This is also very important as you plan to write your essays: it's beyond necessary to give yourself enough time to step away from your work.

2.) Make a Plan: Creating a schedule can help to alleviate much of the stress that is typically associated with this process. Here's a brief outline of how we typically do it: create a chart with your list of schools, identify the admissions plans available at each school and the deadlines associated with these plans, determine which application you will use for each school and what the essay requirements are for every school you're applying to, and create a calendar based on all of this research. Keep the first step in mind, and don't try to tackle too much at once. Spreading out your work is an effective antidote for anxiety.

3.) Understand the Requirements: Testing, essays, resumes, interviews...there are a lot of moving parts in this process. Focus on the specifics of each school: theCommon App writing supplements, for example, will be found in different places for different schools. Most schools will require official transcripts from a high school, and others will ask students to self report their grades. It is your responsibility to know what you need to do!

4.) Decipher the Language: "But it says it's optional!" is a statement we hear over and over every fall. We follow a rule of thumb here at Coastal: Required means required, recommended means required, optional means-- you guessed it-- required, for the most part. Optional essays are a chance for you to show interest in a school as well as different facets of you. Optional test scores, on the other hand, might not present you in the best light, and for some the option to not submit is healthy choice. Educate yourself before making a decision

5.) Writing is Not Easy, But You Have to Start Somewhere: Some of our best students struggle mightily with writing: this is not uncommon. The personal statement is an essay unlike any that you've ever written, and it should be. We spend a lot of time with our students figuring out what they want to say about themselves, but we also understand that the essay rarely makes or breaks an application. Be honest, have fun, and be confident in what you write. Humor and heartache are not easily manufactured, and don't need to be! The personal statement is ultimately just that: a personal statement. It should sincerely reflect you!

6.) Focus on Your Strengths: Whether in the Activities Section of an application or in an interview, first address the things that you're most passionate about. Your commitment to these activities will be both seen and heard.

7.) Proofread, Follow Directions, and Answer the Questions Asked: My dad used to tell me often that the first sign of intelligence is the ability to follow directions. If you can get that right, you'll be just fine.