The Missing Piece

September 18, 2009

When it comes to college, apply and diversify

Your deadlines are set. And you have decided which universities you want to apply to. Now, you sit down to fill out your numererous applications, for programs, for scholarships. This could take days, weeks…

But wait.

Here are five tips to keep in mind — to help you avoid common college application pitfalls.
1.    Presentation matters. An application should be typed or written with a superior pen preferably in black ink.   No application should be submitted with tomato stains or coffee mug rings. Nor should the application be sent by mail crunched and folded. A well prepared application submitted with the required documents will make a good presentation and will be noticed in the pile of wrinkled applications.

2.    Email addresses speak.  The address you share with all of your friends such as sweetpants@, thuglife4ever@, and yourthiof@ may not be the impression you want make.  Use an email that is professional for business.
3.    Passing grades vary.  Schools vary in terms of how difficult it is to get in and how selective they are. Although a 10 means you have passed the BAC it may not be enough to help you gain admission at each and every school of your choice.  You may end up competing against students who have completed their A levels, International Bac, Iranian Concurs, etc.  In this arena the passable on the BAC just may not be enough to gain your admission in the most competitive school of choice but it may help you gain admission somewhere else. This is where the expression “there’s something for everyone” comes into mind and you may need to find that something that is right for you.

4.    Get a plan A, B, and C.  Even if your dream is to study internationally you should have several plans for how to achieve this goal. Go ahead, apply to the school you have always dreamed of in Spain or the UK but also apply to a school in your home country. Have a backup plan. Therefore if you are refused admission to your school abroad (and students get refused everyday) you will still have a Plan B and when October comes around you will be in class.

5.    Scholarships are tricky.  Most schools will require students to complete a scholarship application and also write a personal essay. Writing in to detail about each and every personal and financial struggle you have may not always work to your advantage.  Most scholarships are not merely looking for poor students but bright, hardworking, articulate students who will benefit from additional support. The essay is a great opportunity to define your dreams and aspirations and tell how this scholarship will help you achieve your long term goals.  But begging in any instance or concluding your essay with a desperate plea such as “aidez moi, aidez moi, aidez moi” does not insure you will be considered for a scholarship.
The stages of college application are many, but you can excel at them all with great qualifications, application, and options.

—Angela Franklin


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