As Early Action and Early Decision deadlines quickly approach, make sure you follow these important college application DO's and DONT's!
“Add Additional Information” Section:
DO use the “Add additional information” section to explain circumstances or events that don’t really fit into any other place in your application. This could be a great place to explain a gap in schooling or sudden grade change, to a familial issue or learning difference - really anything that might give ADDITIONAL context into who you are and what journey you’ve gone on throughout high school or community college.
DON’T use the “Add additional information” section to reiterate a point you already made elsewhere, and DON’T feel like you MUST write something in this section in order to be admitted. This is not a place to add superfluous information that doesn’t add important context needed to understand your situation. This is not an additional space just to continue to expand on why you want to attend the school - this should already be covered in your other college application essays.
DO make sure to use a professional/simple email when applying to colleges. If you’re still using your email@example.com childhood email from 10 years ago, think about starting a new email for your professional work. You’ll eventually need this for when you apply to jobs/internships in the future anyway, so why not get started now and try to secure a professional email? Whether you get a domain yourself or just use Gmail/Yahoo, try making something that includes your first and last name, and maybe some underscores or numbers to make it unique if needed.
DON’T use colloquial phrases or risky/controversial jokes in your application - humor is particularly hard to communicate through writing/through a professional college application, and you never know what humor the reader has. It can be risky to assume certain beliefs or use dark humor, because you never know how it will be taken on the other end. Balance this with being yourself and expressing your own beliefs - just be aware that readers come into this job knowing nothing about yourself, so jokes and informal speech could be taken out of context.
Is this YOUR work?
DO take the time to fill out your application activities section yourself - this should not be a job that you pass on to anyone else (i.e. your parents) just because you want to focus more on the essays. This is YOUR college application, and therefore it should reflect YOUR work and your work alone. After all, your parents do not know your work/extracurricular experiences as well as you do anyway, so they wouldn’t be able to help your activities section pair well with your application essays.
DON’T seek out essay help from services or mentors/peers that offer to write your essay (either large parts of it or the whole thing) for you. As mentioned above, this application should reflect YOUR work, so having someone else write your story will not only fail to portray who you are as an applicant, but will also drift into the territory of plagiarism (which is a really serious offense). Intellectual property is something that universities take incredibly seriously, and submitting anything as your own that you did not actually create is dishonorable.
DO create a separate Google document with not only the essay prompts, but also the short answer activities sections that you need to fill out. Sometimes, these question blurbs can be taken from a resume if you already have one - prepare all the materials that have information you’ll need to enter OUTSIDE of the application portal, and then you can simply copy and paste your drafts when you are ready. This also helps ensure that you do not accidentally lose your work if you forget to save or if the portal times out.
DON’T leave the activities section/application forms until the last minute. Oftentimes, these sections will require you to write short descriptions about your activities, and they may have other questions somewhere in the application that you don’t want to be surprised by at the last minute. Finish your essays as early as you can, polish everything before pasting into the entry fields provided, and review all application questions well ahead of time. Make sure that if given the option, you save your application frequently before submitting it so you do not lose any work you’ve already entered.
As you finish up your applications and prepare to submit them, reach out to us with last minute questions! We’re always happy to take a look at what you’ve done and offer essay advice, application tips, and best practices. Happy application season!
Sarah is a Consultant and Social Media Marketing Manager on the Study Hall College Consulting Team. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley in the class of 2020 where she majored in Architecture and minored in Spanish Language and Literature. For more college application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.