The University Application Process
To ensure that the application process to the universities and colleges of your choice is a smooth and successful one, we recommend the following:
1. Do Your Research
a. Limit the colleges to which you will apply based on academic strengths, interests, and preferences in terms of geographical area, climate, campus type, size and diversity of student body, range of activities, etc. The Boston University website has an excellent summary of this process that may be helpful:
b. Complete a detailed investigation into what the college admissions committee will be looking for during the application process, e.g. documents, standardized test scores, etc.
c. Investigate deadlines. Application deadlines vary greatly from one university to another, and even between programs within the same university. Some universities may have separate deadlines for international students. Do your research carefully. Please note- university application deadlines are non-negotiable!
d. Create a table of universities, requirements and deadlines to ensure that, come the fall of your senior year, nothing is missed.
2. Plan Ahead
a. Work towards Meeting University Expectations: If the university of your dreams is a highly selective university that expects academic excellence, pull up your socks and get to work! If the university of your dreams puts a lot of weight on extracurricular activities, NOW is the time to get involved! If a portfolio is part of the application package required, then you should start creating yours immediately.
b. Get in touch with the admissions office of the universities of your choice. Send an email saying that you are interested in the college. Request a brochure or information packet. Ask questions about specific programs or majors. Admissions officers are more likely to say yes to students who have shown interest in their schools in the past, and with whom they have had previous contact.
c. Start pondering the following questions: i. How can I make my application stand out? ii. Who will I ask to write my letters of recommendation? iii. What will be the focus of my Personal Essay?
d. Visit as many universities as you can during your high school career. Although a lot of information can be gathered from university websites and written materials, there is nothing like a campus visit to give you a "feel" for the school.
3. Know What to Expect - General Requirements
Depending on the school, and the program, to which you are applying, universities will generally ask for a combination of any of the below:
a. Official school transcripts
b. Grade twelve grades (up to time of application)
c. Standardized test scores
SAT Reasoning Test
SAT Subject Tests
d. Recommendation letters from teachers, counselors and/or Heads of Department
e. Personal Statement
f. Application Essay (topic will vary between universities)
h. Proof of involvement in extra-curricular activities
4. Tips to Avoid Disappointments!
a. HAVE A BACK UP PLAN!! Many students have their hearts so set on a certain university or program that they neglect to formulate a backup plan "just in case". Think ahead. What program/college can you apply to, that you will still find satisfying, if you don't get into the program/college of your dreams? Apply to enough "safe" programs/colleges to ensure acceptance.
b. AVOID PANIC!! Do not wait until the last minute to complete your college application. Work on your college essay, portfolio, and the collection of your letters of recommendation, etc. early and have them ready ahead of time.
c. GET ORGANIZED!! Different colleges have varying admissions requirements. Create a table of some sort to help you keep track of what you need to send to which college.
d. MEET THE DEADLINES!! COLLEGE DEADLINES ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE!! You have worked hard, kept up your grades, participated, and done all the research your College Counselor has asked you to do… The last thing you want to do is to ruin your chances of acceptance because of a missed deadline!
ENJOY THE PROCESS!! Although the process of choosing the ideal career/college may seem like a complicated one, it can also be immensely informative. It is an incredible time of discovery and personal growth – enjoy it and look forward to the experience ahead!