#25 TRENDING IN Student Life 🔥

10 College Application Tasks for Rising Seniors

student life

Sun, August 06

For high school students, post-graduation plans can be another stressful aspect of your life. Anyone who has applied to a college or university before knows that the process is never 'one-and-done.' Instead, applying to higher education can take anywhere from a few months to a few years at best to prepare for. Graduates may opt out of attending yet another institution, instead focusing on their passions or finding their own ways of life. Choosing what to do with yourself after much of your early life has been decided for you can be difficult, especially the rough transition from structure to independence. Even so, here are 10 application tasks for you to consider before choosing to apply for college:

1. College Visits

Visiting colleges near you can help to ease your pre-university anxieties. By touring local institutions, you can refine your choices, discover new possibilities, and experience the campus firsthand. College tours are also a great way to meet and chat with professors, students, and other academic officials.

Becoming friendly with your future educators is a great way to understand if you’re interested in a specific university. You can visit a college or university by looking through their official website (reputable academic institutions end in the top-level domain .edu).

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2. Applying to Scholarships

Sorting out your finances can be tough, especially when you’re putting aside large sums of money for education. Luckily, there are programs that exist specifically to help students based on their financial needs. When applying to a scholarship program you could win thousands of dollars in tuition, or... you could unintentionally give away your personal information!

While there are legitimate scholarship websites, there are also scammers and data sellers. It’s important to look for common scams before deciding to give your information to malicious entities.

3. Letters of Recommendation

A portion of universities are moving away from this requirement while others still consider letters of recommendation when reviewing your application. A letter of recommendation is a short letter usually written by your educators that explains how you progressed through their school, and the reasoning behind you attending the college you’re applying to. These letters are usually not the crux of your application, as they mainly exist to demonstrate how your educators view you in the classroom.

To obtain a letter, try speaking with your educators or school staff a few weeks in advance. Clearly express your thoughts and give the necessary information needed to write a letter (this depends on what your chosen university requires).

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4. Senior Year

One major aspect of the college application process is your last year attending high school. The efforts made during this transitive period contribute directly to your admission’s success. Your grades, credits earned, and other information will be used in your application and read by admissions officers to determine your place in their college.

During your senior year, it’s important to have fun and relax (as the majority of your school life is already done), while still maintaining passing grades. This experience can be stressful, as it feels like you’ve suddenly gained responsibility! However, you can learn how to manage your stress and thrive during your final year of high school by asking for help and advice when you need an outsider’s opinion on an issue and relying on trustworthy figures of authority to guide you through.

5. Common Application

Speaking of stress, another cause of worry for students is the idea of applying to colleges. The application process has changed tremendously in recent years and has different requirements for different students. For example, a broad selection of modern universities will have their applicants use an application site like the Common App organization. These non-profits will help you save your energy by keeping your details in one place, while you provide your information and type your essay responses when needed. Applying to college doesn’t require stress, it can lead to excitement or other eye-opening experiences.

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6. Choosing your Major(s)

A major is an area of study you choose when committing yourself to a specific institute. Picking the major that works for you takes time, research, and effort. Yes, a decision can be made overnight.

However, it’s important to understand what you’re engaging with before deciding to dedicate your studies to a randomly chosen life path. Try talking to your teachers, involving yourself with clubs, and chatting with family members to understand how your college major can impact your life.

7. Paying for Tuition

Tying back to task no. 2, student finances can be difficult to manage. It can become tougher if you have limited information on how money works, or what programs your government and related officials are offering to help students financially. Get in touch with your money by asking your family and friends about their streams of income, reading or watching the news, and looking up financial aid resources. You can also start becoming more responsible by learning how to save and keep track of your money.

A person counting cash money at a desk.

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8. Your Transcript

Here comes the frightening part: your grades! From my personal experience, the last experience any graduate wants to rethink is their grades. Your high school transcript (popularly referred to as your ‘permanent record’) is a list of all the classes you’ve taken, credits you’ve earned, and any academic achievements you’ve been given. This transcript includes your grades and is usually sent to colleges from you or your high school. I tell you this not to panic, as being informed about what’s going on at your high school will help you be more prepared when transitioning to college. If you’re worried about what might be on your academic records, try speaking to your guidance counselors (or other relevant officials), talking to teachers about your grades in their classes, and using new methods to study or raise your GPA.

9. Your Safety (and Safeties!)

This next tip may be viewed as trivial until a specific situation calls for it, but you should always feel safe at your chosen school. Your security and safety as an individual should come first. When creating a list of colleges you want to attend, ask yourself the question “am I able to be my authentic self and express my thoughts without feelings of harm?” Although that may sound like a loaded question, you should be able to freely state your feelings without the idea that a person or force would punish you for doing so.

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As an American minority student, I evaluate my list of colleges on how campuses welcome different orientations and personal identities, students with disabilities, students with different neurotypes, and other marginalized identities that would otherwise impact the quality of my education. When considering a college or university to attend, remember that you deserve to be treated with both respect for your beliefs and dignity towards your identity. If you feel unsafe, reach out to trusted members of authority, or consider other colleges.

10. The Big-and-Terrifying College Essay!

Lastly, the college essay. While this complex part of your application forces you to condense your livelihood into a paragraph or two, it becomes less of a struggle when you understand what colleges are asking for. Try breaking down the essay into smaller parts, leaning more on your creativity than popular topics, and talking to your guidance officials and trusted teachers before submitting your response. Keep in mind that your words should be your own. Avoid reliance on services that claim to write your essays for you – they could be scams. Not only is engaging with these services disrespectful to your writing abilities as a student, but you would also be giving away the opportunity to truly let colleges know your writing and mental processes. Maintaining academic integrity can be challenging at times, but your genuine efforts will pay off when you impress the admissions officer reviewing your college application.

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A number of people don’t find the process of applying to college easy. When you utilize the tools available to you, build a trustworthy support system, and engage in your academic success, attending university becomes easier. Life has its challenges, and this may be one of them, but you can ease the growing pains of life when you stay true to yourself and what you believe in. Without growth, there is no change, and change (although stress-inducing) is necessary for you to thrive later in life.

Victoria King

Writer since Nov, 2021 · 1 published articles

My name is Vic, but I'm not shy to nicknames! I am a multi-media artist, storyteller, and fantasy writer from a small town in Massachusetts. Some of my more recent hobbies include educating myself and others about the First Nations peoples and their histories, taking a deeper look at animation as a medium, and decolonization. I am constantly inspired by the world around me and find guidance through my communities - both on and offline. I love to learn, especially from other people with similar interests (I think everyone should have a "teacher friend"). My articles, stories, and pieces of art often reflect my current interests and are based on the world we see today. When it comes to the stories I'm currently working on, I am nowhere near completion. However, that just inspires me to keep on writing!