1. Be yourself
Clayton Marsh (’14): Be genuine. Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not in your applications; try to give your application reader as true and honest an image of yourself as possible. On a more practical note, taking full-length, 3-hour SAT practice tests on the weekends helps an incredible amount. Doing a couple sections per sitting doesn’t work. Also, starting your essays in August, as well as finding people to read your essays who aren’t your college counselors whether they be parents, siblings, friends, or professionals is essential.
2. Make your own decision
Fares Chehabi (’14): Do not let your course of action be altered by the choices of others. Seventy seven percent of the current senior class applied early, and I was one of the 23 percent who only applied regular decision. I made this choice to take more time to work on my Common Application and improve my SAT scores, which was especially important as the colleges that are applied to early generally hold SAT scores in higher regard. I am yet to identify a top choice after applying to nearly 20 schools, but the idea of putting all of my options on the table on April 1 and taking things from there relaxes me. I never had one “dream school” in mind.
3. The end justifies the means
Kate Kennedy (’14): Be aware that while this is an incredibly exciting process and that everyone will end up in great places for them, either you, or one of your friends, will get rejected at some point. Always remember both of these things: Everything will work out and the end will justify the means, and also that whether you’re devastated or ecstatic, you are surrounded by people who are feeling the exact same things and you should be conscious of them.
4. Don’t overcomplicate
Hamish Stephenson (’14): Be simple. Be bold. Be effective.