A friend of mine was asking for advice on Facebook about college so I wrote her this. I’m posting this here because I think it’s useful for all the Seniors freaking the hell out about college. Sorry for the language but if you want my advice you’ll have to suffer through the profanity.
Here’s my advice:
Get it done, get it done now (in regards to college apps). You have a light work load at the start of the year and you don’t want to wait. My friend didn’t get into ANY colleges she wanted because she procrastinated too long. College apps are boring as hell. They’re actually not that hard (except the essay) but they’re fucking tedious. Put on some good music and just do them. Even if you really don’t want to.
Get someone to read over your essay. Seriously, I can read it over for you if you need me to. Never ever send in your first draft. Try getting a parent or teacher to help you edit it. Also, always tell a sob story. If you have a disability, are part of a minority, broken home/divorce, etc. tell whoever is reading how you overcame that obstacle in your life. THEY EAT THAT SHIT UP. Make sure your writing doesn’t put you in a bad light or make you seem uncertain (even if you are undeclared you can still be confidant). Never write the minimum. Good traits to mention if you can fit it in somehow:
– Equality and Diversity
– Flexibility and Openness
– Imagination and Curiosity
– Integrity and Persistence
– Compassion and Courage
– Excellence and Accountability
– Generosity and Engagement
– Teamwork and Collaboration
When filling out your common app (which I highly suggest) it’s okay to do half-truths. Only speak a smidge of Chinese? Say you can’t write or read it but can speak it. It’s okay, technically your true (don’t do this for more than 1 language, 2 if you are actually kinda proficient). Not actually gay? Say you are if you think you might even be as little as 10% gay. Only participate at that school club for 1 hour a week? Say you participate 1.5 hours a week instead. Those few extra minutes you spend talking to your friends count. Make sure you fill up all 10 of those extracurricular on the common app. How badly do you want to get into college?
Ask your teachers for letters of rec RIGHT NOW. In a couple of months they’ll be swamped with writing letters for everyone. Even if they ask you to ask them in a couple of months, you’ll be on the top of their lists because you’ve already asked. GIVE THEM A BRAG LIST of your achievements. Put any philanthropic work, jobs, school activities, hobbies, awards, publications, etc. on there. Write a few bullet points with things such as: 3 words to describe you, what you aim to achieve in college (ALWAYS say you want a PHD in whatever you want to major in. Doesn’t even matter if you’re undeclared, just say it), etc. THIS IS NOT A TIME TO BE MODEST.
Actually research your schools. Imagine my surprise when I learned that all UC schools didn’t have my very common major of International Business for undergrads. That would have been $45 a school of wasted money if I hadn’t checked. Call the school, tell them you are a prospective student, and ask them what programs they offer. ALWAYS LOOK FOR HONORS PROGRAMS. They are normally free programs and come with a butt ton of good things that other people don’t get. You do have to do more for the college app if you decide to apply, but it’s totally worth it. Some community colleges have the honors program too.
LOOK FOR SCHOLARSHIPS LIKE YESTERDAY. The best scholarships are due by December. I don’t have access to the links right now, but go to your career center at your school and they should have some for you. If not, try your local community centers. Even if the scholarship seems way out of your league, do it. You never know.
Fill out your FASFA now. Don’t wait for another 6 months when you’re tired of school and you don’t give two shits anymore. Just do it now, sometimes you get free cash.
And finally, don’t fucking stress.
Yeah yeah yeah… College is hard, blah blah blah. What if I don’t get into the right one? What if I hate it? What if it’s too hard?
Look: the nice thing about college is that it’s a time in your life when you can finally have some control. You can choose to take a gap year, or go part time, or go to two years of community college first (which is a smart thing to do on the financial and stress side). You get to choose to go far away or stay close at home. Stressing isn’t going to do anything but make you miserable. I ended having a 100% acceptance rate, I got lucky. I still turned down the private school and $11,000 scholarship they were offering in lieu of going to a state college. I’ve never been happier. Relax, you’ll end up in the right place eventually. You don’t need to be a perfectionist, you don’t have to get it right on the first try. SOMETIMES THAT’S HOW LIFE WORKS.
And I’m not going to lie, you’re probably going to ignore 70% of this post. I know I did. Then next year when you’re a Freshman in college, you’ll tell people the exact same thing.
So that’s my advice on college. It’s informal, it’s unorganized, it has profanity, it probably has grammar/spelling mistakes. But it’s truthful. It’s raw and honest and I don’t give any BS.
I hope this helps someone out there. Good luck Seniors.