Painlessly Preparing Your College Application

When you decide to enroll in a traditional or online college, the next step is filling out an application. Although it can be exciting to begin the college entry process, the application is arguably the most crucial part. Schools ask for a variety of information, ranging from date of birth to standardized testing scores. Individuals who are interested in enrolling at an educational institution can request a hard copy of an application, but many schools allow potential students to download and print out their own documents. Before filling out the application, candidates are encouraged to gather additional information to make the process easier. Any loan documents, Social Security cards and parental data can help while filling out the application. Here are a few more things to keep in mind while signing forms.

  • Consider obtaining a recommendation. Whether you are a new high school graduate who has a connection to an experienced instructor or an adult with ties to a respected employer, submitting a recommendation with your application is a good idea. Not only does a recommendation back up any relevant experience listed on the submission, but a former colleague can highlight the strengths of the individual who is planning to enroll in a degree program.
  • Make the most of the opportunity to list experience and expertise. The college application process can be treated like resume building in which individuals use the chance to hone in on their past experiences. Although the applicant is not submitting information for a job, the same criteria that would be viewed by employers will be judged by college administrators. There is typically a section of an application that allows individuals to list their accomplishments and any awards they may have received in their past experiences. Highlighting these achievements can give an applicant an edge against the competition. Colleges receive hundreds of applications annually, and individuals are encouraged to take any advantages they can get.
  • Be prepared to submit basic information. The first few pages of a typical college application ask for information ranging from an individual’s Social Security number to their mother’s maiden name. To avoid any complications and prolong the process, applicants are encouraged to have any important documents on hand to fill out their forms. An individual who has submitted a college application in the past might also be worth having nearby. They can answer any questions that an applicant might have along the way.
  • Take advantage of the essay section. Most colleges require individuals to write an essay to accompany the information on the application. The topic is typically provided, but on occasion, applicants are given the opportunity to choose their own theme. In any case, the essay section provides individuals with the optimal chance to plead their case to college administrators. Applicants are encouraged to create a thesis and expand upon their stance to highlight their expertise. The essay portion is also a great way to help readers understand how an applicant could contribute to their institution.
  • Utilize high test scores. Depending on the school to which an individual is applying, the college may require applicants to provide standardized testing scores. The most commonly accepted scores are from the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) exams. These tests were created to develop a uniform way of assessing applicants’ knowledge prior to college admission. For a small fee, individuals can take these exams to receive scores for the application process. Although they may not be required, a high score can help an individual enhance the appeal of their application to administrators.