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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Sumners

3 Tips for Crafting Your College Application

Here at Empower, we love helping students infuse peace into stressful situations - and college applications are a perfect opportunity to do that.

Here's 3 tips we share with our students along the journey!

1. Figure out what's important to the colleges you want to apply to by using the Common Data Set.

Once you've identified which colleges are the right match for you, do a bit of research on how to show them that you're a great match for them!

One of my favorite ways to do this is by using the information in the Common Data Set. Just Google "Common Data Set" + the name of your college, and click on the latest admissions year. There will be tons of information on it, but the part that's important to you is in section C7. You'll get a great chart where colleges rank whether something is very important to them, important, considered, or not considered. For example, some schools rank your GPA and coursework as very important while test scores are important. Some schools don't consider special talents or abilities at all, whereas other schools consider them important. This gives you an idea of what to emphasize in your application.

2. Fill out a college application before you're ready to do the final copy.

Admissions deadlines are later in the fall or even spring of your senior year, but filling an application out in the summer allows you to see potential gaps in your application - while you still have time to make changes (if you want to).

For example, some of our students apply to colleges where volunteer work is extremely important to the college's mission. If students struggle to complete the volunteer work and realize that's a gap for them - AND it's important to them to volunteer more - they still have time to add that in to their summer schedule.

It's more difficult to schedule in new activities in the fall of senior year, so filling out an application early to get a sense of these potential areas for growth can help students have time to make authentic changes. We don't encourage students to change just for the sake of an application - but if it inspires them to do something that matches who they are and who they want to be, we encourage them to go for it!

3. Reach out to your supporters.

You're not the only person who is completing your college application. You'll also likely need help from your recommenders (usually teachers), your school counselor, and your family. The application includes questions that you may not know about your parents or guardians, so taking some time this summer to review those types of questions away from the stress of the school year can be really helpful.

Go ahead and reach out to potential recommenders as soon as you've thought of who you'd like to ask. Many teachers may have a limit of how many letters they can write since they are often asked during a busy part of the school year - so beat the rush and ask early!

Want more tips like these? Join us for our Crafting Your College Application workshop this summer!

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