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Submit! You can survive applying to college

January 03, 2006|by ESPE MARTINEZ

I wipe the sweat from my forehead and relax in my chair. There; I'm done. Now I can apply for college.

Do you realize how much work you have to complete to be able to send off a single college application?

Just a week before, I had been pondering if I even wanted to go to this school. Since then, I had filled out a college application, handed out and received back two teacher recommendation forms and two counselor evaluation forms and written a college essay. I can now relate to other high school seniors who have gone through that process.

For those who haven't yet completed a college application, don't sweat. With help, filling out the application can be a breeze.

Filling out the application

Each college is different and each one will request different information for a student application. However, many colleges use the Common Application, found at www.commonapp.org.

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The Common Application is an easy way to avoid extra work when filling out multiple applications. Once you fill out this application, that's it. You can send it multiple times without filling it out over and over, plus 277 colleges use this application, which makes it a resourceful investment of time.

There are nine parts to complete in the Common Application including: personal data; educational data; test information; family description; extracurricular and volunteer activities; and work experience. Also, there is an essay.

The Common Application provides a school year and midyear report form, which can be completed by the school guidance counselor. It also provides two teacher evaluation forms; ask teachers who know you well to fill them out. Giving these forms to the designated person in advance will allow them sufficient time to fill them out without feeling rushed.

Some colleges also allow other optional items to be sent with the application, such as a recent picture or even a freedom-of-expression page. A high school transcript should also be sent either from you or directly from your high school but should always be in a sealed and signed envelope. SAT/ACT scores will need to be sent to the college from the testing agency.

Writing an essay

Anguish and panic are the essence of college applications. In the midst of term papers and Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the last thing you even want to think about is writing an essay for college. That's why it is crucial to start early!

A few keys to the college essay:

  • Write as good as you can. This is the time and place to apply the skills you learned in English class. The essay is often the defining line between receiving an acceptance letter or not.

  • Grab the reader's attention. Remember, your essay is one in a long stack of essays, so make it interesting.

  • Tailor it to the institution's flavor. Think carefully about which topic you will write.

  • Pick something that is within the college's guidelines, but also make sure you are passionate about it.

  • Reread and revise your first draft. Don't write the entire essay in one sitting.


As I sit down to write another college essay, I take a deep breath and am thankful that I have a month until the deadline. Maybe it will be less hectic this time?

For more tips for applying to college, go to the College Board online at www.college board.com. College Board provides access to SAT registration, scholarship, financial aid and loan information. Your high school guidance counselor can also be of great help if you have any additional problems.

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