Your supplement college essay should paint a picture of how you see yourself once you are an actual student. Try describing your ideal day on campus. While writing about your college visit in high school can show what university details you find compelling, the reader will picture you as a high school student. Why not have the reader picture you as actual student? You’re making the admissions officers picture you as an accepted student walking through campus, which is the goal after all.
Applying as a transfer student is similar to the regular freshman application. In fact, you may have some key advantages, most of which students are unaware of until we outline their application game plan in our first personalized coaching session.
Transferring after one year at a college provides you time to increase your test scores and show a college your freshman year grades.
When the transfer application essay asks you why you are transferring, you stay positive, don’t focus on the past, and praise your target institution.
Your personal statement should make the reader laugh, cry, and feel suspense, all in the span of 500 words. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.
You’re not writing an essay for History class; you’re writing a short story piece that should have the tone of a journal entry. The reader will be familar with your activities and recs, so no need to reiterate them. Instead, tell a great story that shows self- awareness, empathy, and makes you likable to the reader. A great story contains beats, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and dialogue.
Wondering how to ace your college interview? Students forget that they are speaking to a person and that they are having a normal conversation. They make the mistake of entering the interview with an agenda and the mindset that they need to “convince” the interviewer that they are a good fit at the school. Instead, I suggest you have organic conversations and ask the interviewer about her experience at the college. Evoke nostalgia. She’ll love to talk about her own college experiences. Smile and nod and say, “Well, it really does sound like a special place. I really hope I get the chance to experience it. I really enjoyed talking to you today!”
Make sure your teachers are familiar with you before you ask them. Ideally you two are close by junior year. Ask her a question after class. Ask for advice. Show humility and crack a joke.
Another idea: spring of junior year, ask your teacher for copies of a letter of recommendation for a “job or scholarship.” This way you’ll be able to see the type of rec she produces before senior year, at which point teachers are usually forbidden from showing you what they wrote about you. Plus you'll be able to use the recomendation when applying for an actual job or scholarship over the summer.
Senior year ask your teacher if she would feel comfortable writing you a letter for college. If you get an “Absolutely!” tell the teacher you’ll have an activity list to her the next day to help her remember your activities. This list (not actually a list) should be in essay form (not resume) and should be written so that if the teacher were to copy sentences from the document, they would fit right into the actual letter. You are making her job easier and ensuring that she writes an extremely personal, detailed letter.
The “quality over quantity” rule applies to your activities. You should have Founder or President roles whenever possible in clubs. I’d rather see President of two activities instead of VP of seven things. Ideally, you have both.
Try to participate in activities that span the entirety of high school, not just one time activities like service trips.
Campus visits are a lot of fun. You’re on the road with your family. Mom and dad are bickering over directions and your sunburnt sister just spilled her ice cream all over the backseat of the minivan. You run to the admissions office just in time for the 11am tour, your dad panting and wishing he hadn’t left his bottle of water in the car. You all remark on how stunning the campus architecture is. The tour commences. Instead of zoning out and thinking about college parties like your peers on the tour, you take notes on everything you see, ask current students unique questions about the campus, meet with professors, students, contacts, and record hundreds of campus-specific details to reference in later essays, interviews, and communications with the admissions office.
If you are considering applying to Penn and the Ivy League, look at our sister site PrePenn for advice specially catered to students applying to the world’s most selective institutions.
The high school years for the college-bound top-performer can be some of the most enjoyable, productive years of her life, but they can also be some of the most stressful, especially considering the current grueling college application process.
A soundly constructed Common Application is the result of planning, discipline, and sound information. Which sections should I leave blank? What should I complete? How much overlap should I create when writing about myself in different pieces? Stay tuned for a new video series detailing the secrets of cracking the common app.
These videos contain broad strategic advice applicable to students just beginning to complete their applications.