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Five Tips for Applying to College

Andriana shares some advice about the college application process!  

Andriana shares some advice about the college application process!  

Happy Thursday everyone!

Since we’re now getting to the middle of October, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about the college application process. Senior year was a busy year, and the thought of applying to colleges was pretty overwhelming. Now that this year’s seniors are probably getting ready to start sending in applications soon, it seemed like a good time to share some tips from my experience. Remember that this is all from my perspective, though, and other people might have different opinions regarding the college experience!

1. Early decision vs. regular decision

As you might know, when applying to college, there are three choices regarding your type of application: early action, early decision, and regular decision. Early action, which is not binding, and early decision, which is binding, allow you to submit your application early and receive your decision early — usually in December or January.

Here at Carleton, you can apply as either early decision or regular decision. Applying early decision could be right for you if you are absolutely certain that Carleton is your top choice, and that if you get in, you know that you will attend (regardless of financial aid). Some people choose to apply early decision because the acceptance rate for the early round can be higher, but you have to be sure that you really want to go to the school.

2. Visit colleges

Try to visit the schools you are considering, if not before applying, then before you commit to attend. Of course, this isn’t always possible — I did not visit every school I applied to — but it is helpful. I found that a lot of the schools started to sound the same, with a good academic reputation, a pretty campus, helpful resources, etc. Visiting allowed me to meet the people who I would interact with on campus and get an idea of the atmosphere at the school. When I visited Carleton, I was attracted to the warmth of the people and the energy and passion of the students, things which I wouldn’t have known from looking online.

If you can’t make a visit, you might be able to attend an event in your area and meet representatives from the school. It might also be a good idea to reach out to the admissions office or get in touch with a current student so that you can talk to someone about the school.

3. Be thoughtful about where you choose to apply

College applications are a lot of work and can get expensive quickly (although Carleton has a free application). Try to only apply to schools that you are actually interested in attending. I applied to 11 schools, and in retrospect, there were some that I did not really want to go to. It can be tempting to apply to lots of schools just to see where you get in, but it can save a lot of time and money to cut schools if you know that you wouldn’t want to enroll.

4. Interview!

When possible, take the opportunity to interview. When I visited schools that were out of town, I tried to schedule interviews for the same day, and for schools that I could not visit, I tried to schedule alumni interviews or Skype interviews. Of course, interviews won’t always be possible, and if you can’t get one, then don’t stress. If you have the opportunity to interview, though, definitely take it! It is a great way to not only allow the college to get to know you as a person, beyond how you look on paper, but it also gives you the chance to learn more about the school.

I did an interview at Carleton with a current senior, and I was able to hear about his experience and perspective. When you interview, just be yourself — the interviews tend to be pretty casual, and can really only help your application.

5. After applying, relax!

College applications are stressful, and making a final decision can be nerve-racking as well; during the time in between, however, there is nothing for you to do except wait to receive the decisions. Don’t spend January through March worrying about your decisions, although I know this is easier said than done. Take the time to relax, enjoy senior year, and focus on school — there will be plenty of time to think about college later.

Remember that you can get a good education anywhere, and that the college experience is what you make of it – the college that you go to will not make or break your future. Finally, have faith in the process, frustrating as it can seem at times, and know that you will end up at the best place for yourself.

Good luck!


P.S. We had some really lovely days this week, so of course I had to add some more arb pics!

arb trees

skyline sunset

Andriana is a native of Richmond, VA, and is looking forward to starting her freshman year at Carleton. She is especially excited to experience the Minnesotan Tundra first-hand and learn what the phrase “polar vortex” really means. When Andriana isn’t busy staying warm, you can find her binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. She is hoping to double major in International Relations and English, while also reminding herself to keep an open mind as she begins her college career. Meet the other bloggers!