US College Admission Application Essentials

Once you have narrowed the field of schools you are considering, it's time to fill out the applications. Some students apply to as many as 8 to 10 colleges, while others limit themselves to two or three. In any case, devote the time necessary to create a strong application.

Admission officers look at a variety of factors, including essays, prizes, community service and work experience, hobbies, and special talents, as they review applications to try to determine your potential for success at their institutions. List your extracurricular activities as well as your school accomplishments. Observe all deadlines.

Teacher Recommendation

Some colleges ask for teacher recommendation, so take this often overlooked part more seriously. But planning ahead will lead to better and more thoughtful teacher recommendation letters, which will in turn have a positive impact on your chances for admission.
  • Letters of recommendation are important, so choose carefully the people you will ask.
  • Choose recommenders as early as possible. This gives you more time to consider strategy, and more importantly gives your teacher plenty of time to write.
  • Choose teachers who will write the best teacher recommendation letters. Also choose a teacher who is likely to spend time on your assignment and has an experience in this type of task rather than teacher who likes you the most.
  • Put together a resume or basic fact sheet about yourself. If the teacher knows about what you do outside of class, it will be easier for him or her to write an effective recommendation.
  • Follow up on deadlines. You need to handover the assignment to the teacher in advance so that you meet the deadline and need not be pushy too.
  • Be grateful as this is the unpaid job for teachers.

Essay Basics

An essay topic makes an important part of the admission process and gives admission committee a chance to know a little more about you. Think carefully about your application essay -- don't just dash it off. Spend time thinking about the essay topics. Colleges generally ask for two types of essay:
  • Personal Essay: Describe your interests and accomplishments which are not indicated elsewhere on the application.
  • Professional Essay: Write about professional and intellectual aspirations and prior personal experiences relevant to your choice of a specific college or academic program at the specific University.
An audition, portfolio, or interview may be required for Fine and Applied Arts applicants.

Writing an essay can be difficult task too without proper planning and thinking. Here are a few tips to start:
  1. Research: There are a number of resources out there to help to assemble a first-rate college admissions essay. But among the most valuable resources are simply sample essays that have worked for students in the past. This would give you an idea about what topics to select.
  2. Find a Topic: This can be difficult but think of some interesting, intimate and meaningful topic
  3. Write a draft: Write an essay on the selected topic, even if you are not satisfied with the first time effort don’t give up write again with fresh perspective.
  4. Revise and Edit: Once you finish writing do not forget to revise and pay attention to grammar and punctuation.
  5. Take Help: If you are unsure of the essay do not hesitate for the outside help from your counselor or an admission essay experts.

Dos and Don’ts for your College Essay

  • Have a point to your essay.
  • Proofread carefully.
  • Write multiple drafts - your essay will become better with each rewrite.
  • Write in active, strong voice, not in passive voice.
  • Show your personality/ voice through your topic and word choice.
  • Write a “catchy” introduction that will catch the reader and make them want to continue reading your essay.
  • Consider who your audience is and how they will interpret your style and vocabulary choices. At the very least an admission counselor will read your essay, then possibly the Dean of Admissions or even a member of the college’s faculty. Proper grammar, style and formality are required.
  • Use difficult or unusual words. The reader will be able to distinguish your voice verses a thesaurus.
  • Use the essay to explain a weakness in your record. (If you need to explain a weakness, use a separate piece of paper).
  • Take on too much in your essay - this leads to poor organization.
  • Address half of the essay topic - Most essays have a part A and part B embedded in them. Be sure to answer the ENTIRE question.
  • Leave the reader wondering what your main point is. Be sure to clearly state your topic/theme/thesis in the beginning of your essay.
Extra-curricular for Extra Edge

Your choice of extracurricular activities is certainly not as important as your academics, but they can be an important consideration as schools are searching for well-rounded students who will contribute more than classroom participation at school. The colleges also look for students who make the college campus a lively place.

Extracurricular activities can be good sources for recommendations from people who know you well and know your work-ethic or your passion in a particular area. Your extracurricular activities may also give you the chance to find out what you like doing and what you might want to major in while at college. This is valuable knowledge to have when making college selection decisions. The extra-curricular activities can give those extra points which you require to get into college of your choice so start early is the best strategy.
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