College applicants today don’t realize how easy they’ve got it compared to just a few short years ago when applicants spent hours or even days filling out paper forms with ink pens or typewriters and a bottle of white out. Recent technological advances have definitely been good for college applicants. These days college applications can be filled out online and transmitted electronically. More than 500,000 applicants use computer generated applications and that number grows every year.
Just because the application process has become much simpler, don’t get lazy and lose sight of the top priority. If you take the time and effort to fill out your application completely and then double check it to correct any careless mistakes, that alone might be enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Admissions officers are amazed at the number of typographical & spelling errors in the applications they receive. After four years of high school, preparing for and taking the standardized college entrance examinations, traveling to visit prospective colleges, and paying hundreds of dollars in application fees some applicants are carelessly diminishing their chances of being accepted because they don’t take a few short minutes to double check their applications. It’s sad but true.
How many colleges and universities you apply to is a personal decision but it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket especially if that one is an Ivy league school or one of the other schools flooded with applicants. You should consider this a “reach” application and apply to at least two other schools where your acceptance is likely. Consider carefully which schools you apply to for 2 reasons. First, you’re going to spend the next four years of your life on that campus. And secondly, if you only apply to one or two schools and happen to be rejected at both where does that leave you? There are enough quality colleges and universities that you should have no problem finding at least one you like where there is a high probability of your application being accepted.
Unless you’re completely uncomfortable using the Internet you should strongly consider filing your application electronically. Applying electronically will neither help your hurt your chances but it is much more convenient especially when applying to multiple colleges or universities. There are several websites which will allow you to complete the applications for several schools. This is especially convenient in that it eliminates the redundancy of having to enter your personal information and several applications.
Another possible time saver is the Common Application available at commonapp.org. A growing number of schools are accepting the common application in addition to their own forms. It’s possible that if all your choices accept the Common Application you would only have to fill out a single application and send it to several schools. Wouldn’t that be nice.
Finally even in this Internet age we live in, don’t lose sight of the personal touch. If you’re serious about attending a certain college make the effort to personally visit the school and stop by the admissions office. If the school sends a representative to visit your high school be sure to introduce yourself. Get a business card and e-mail each individual you meet to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the school. Making that little extra effort could make the difference. Instead of a pile of data on an application, you’ve made yourself a real person that the admissions officer can visualize. All things being equal, wouldn’t you choose someone you “know” over another faceless applicant? Good luck.