College Applications: Tips and Tricks

Ally Parker, Co-Editor-In-Chief

There are a couple of things I wish I would have done differently while starting my college search and application process. It’s definitely stressful, but I have learned a lot throughout my journey.

Studying for your ACT is the first step in this process. Taking old ACT tests can be great practice. There are plenty of free ACT tests and practice problems that you can find on the internet. There are also ACT prep books that you can buy. The only problem with these is that these books can get pretty expensive. Using the practice tests online is your best bet. They are just as effective as the prep books, just for no cost. 

Due to COVID, ACT scores were optional to submit this year. I still ended up submitting my ACT scores to four of the five colleges I applied to. I definitely recommend studying hard for your ACT. I wasn’t entirely happy with my score. I studied pretty intensely my first time, but the second time I slacked off and barely studied. This showed in my score because I got the same exact score the second time I took it. Make sure you actually put in the effort and practice in order to get a score that you will be happy with.

Starting your college visits early is really important. Visiting campuses and taking tours can help determine what colleges you want to go to. I recommend starting your visits the summer before your senior year. Over the summer you will have more time to plan out visits and not worry about missing school. 

I didn’t do my first college tour until the beginning of this school year. It was really hard to try and squeeze in nine different college trips. I had to plan them out on the weekends and work around my schedule. Get your college visits done early. It will be a lot more stressful if you wait until the last minute to squeeze them all in.  

With this being said, I definitely recommend visiting the campuses.  You can really feel the vibe of a college within the first few minutes you are there. Visiting the campus, walking in a couple of buildings, checking out the dorms, and seeing what food they offer in the dining halls will really help you know if you like the college. 

There were a couple of colleges that I thought I was going to like. For example, The University of Akron had both of the majors that I was interested in. However, once I got to the campus, I didn’t like it at all. If I decided not to visit the campus, then I might have ended up applying there and wasting my money. 

Lastly, is finally applying to your colleges. I recommend using the common app to submit your application. The common app account will allow you to set up a basic application that you can use to apply to multiple colleges. It is really helpful because you don’t have to fill out an application for every college that you want to apply to, you can just use the same one. 

I understand that finding a college you want to go to and applying to that college can be very stressful. My best advice is to not put any of this stuff off, it will only make it more difficult. Plan everything ahead of time and try to stay organized during your application process.