Five Surefire Ways For Students To Manage College Application Stress Effectively

Applying to colleges can be stressful, and for teenagers, this decision is one of the biggest they will have made in their lives. College-bound seniors might be feeling overwhelmed and overworked as admissions deadlines loom closer, and the stress will build as they struggle to finish everything on time.

The application process isn’t easy, so students should create a plan of action on how to cope with the added pressure. Parents can also serve as a supportive shoulder to lean on during this busy time. Here are five surefire ways for students to manage college application stress effectively.

1. Start Early
If the thought of applying to college causes you anxiety, then you might be overwhelmed with all the options. Start early by visiting admissions websites, talking to college students or representatives and attending information sessions to figure out where you might want to attend college.

The Common Application prompts are released before summer even starts, so you could get started on your personal statement now. By finishing that essay by the time school starts, you can alleviate some of the stress of balancing classes with the application process.

Another thing you get off your plate early is the letters of recommendation. Think of teachers, mentors or coaches that you have formed a close relationship with over the years. Give them your resume and ask them to write you a letter of recommendation early in the process to ensure they have time to write a thoughtful recommendation.

2. Stay Organized
Regardless of how many schools you choose to apply to, there can still be a lot of information and conflicting dates to remember. Instead of trying to keep track of it mentally, write it down and organize it. List out all deadlines, the cost of attendance, whether you need test scores, how many recommendations schools require and if they require any supplemental essays. As you complete the items on the checklist, cross them off. That way, you are never left wondering if you forgot to answer a supplemental essay question or how many letters of recommendations you need to submit.

3. Ask For Help
You aren’t expected to do this all on your own. Ask a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher or school counselor for help with an essay, your college list or any other part of the application. You could even consider hiring an independent counselor to be your guide and assist you with more specific issues. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

4. Reuse What You Can
Luckily, the Common App makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools a little quicker. You won’t have to refill out your basic information numerous times, and you can send your personal statement to all the universities that accept the Common App. However, some schools will require supplemental essays. As you apply to more schools, you might realize you have to write on a similar topic for multiple schools. Reuse the content when you can, but make sure that each essay is still tailored to the particular school and fully answers the specific prompt.

5. Keep A Positive Attitude
You will get in somewhere! If you have planned ahead, written genuine essays that reflect your personality and applied to a balanced list of colleges, then you will likely get into a school that is the perfect fit for you. College application season can be stressful, but by taking these steps, you can manage the workload and find your place at the college of your dreams.

Three Essential Things To Consider With SAT/ACT Test Prep Services by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

As a high school student, you’ve most likely heard about the SAT and ACT for years. By now, you understand the importance of the tests and how the scores can impact your admission or scholarship chances. Now that the school year is starting to approach, you might be wondering how to start with your preparations for the test. What is the best way to prepare? Should you pay for a tutor? Here are three essential things that every student should consider before studying for the SAT/ACT.

Discover Your Learning Style
Test taking is a skill and one that you can hone and improve with practice if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Before you start to look for a test preparation service, you should assess what your learning style is and what your expectations are. If you don’t know what your learning style is, there are online tests you can easily take to help you find out.

Once you know your learning style, you can then find a test preparation service that fits your needs and style best. For example, if you are more of a visual learner, you might do well learning from an online program since it is presentation-based. If you’re an auditory learner, you might do better studying with a friend or with a private tutor because you can talk through difficult questions.

Online Or In-Person?
Before deciding what test prep service to choose, you should take a practice test to help highlight the areas in which you need the most improvement.

Perhaps the test indicates that you only need help with the math section, so you might consider just hiring a math tutor. Or if your analysis shows that you might need to improve your score all-around, then taking a full course might be better for you.

Taking online courses can be beneficial to students who have a busy schedule and want to learn at their own pace. Online courses would not be a good fit for someone who needs the accountability or individual attention that an in-person class or tutor provides.

Tutors and classes are often local and in-person, but you can also find high-quality tutors online. Regardless of its delivery method, tutoring has an advantage because each class can be customized towards your personal needs. You can get specific advice that matches your test-taking skills and spend class time on only the subjects that you need help improving.

Is It Worth The Money And Time?
When you start looking for a test prep help, you might initially be shocked by the price tag of some courses. Even though the cost might seem too much, if you can afford it, it is often worth the price.

If you opt for a course in a classroom, it is generally cheaper because the teacher’s time is split between a group of students, making it less expensive than a private tutor. A private tutor, on the other hand, can cost as little as $20 an hour to hundreds per hour. The question remains, though: Is it worth the cost?

Test preparation services are an investment in your future. If a recommended ACT course costs $800, you might think that is not worth it to raise your score a few points. However, earning two or three points might help you qualify for an increase in renewable merit scholarship awards. That might mean the $700 you initially invested could help you get thousands of extra dollars in scholarship money a year.

By investing in a test prep course, you can help yourself by preparing earlier and not waiting until the last minute to begin to study. Creating healthy study habits now is the best way to have success on the ACT/SAT and future tests.

Three Ways To Make Your High School Resume Impressive To Colleges by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

Admission rates at top colleges have become more competitive over the past ten years, with even the best students finding themselves on the waitlist or rejected from many of the schools on their list. If you have your heart set on attending a highly-selective school, then you should start planning on ways to get your resume and application to stand out from the crowded field.

With a little bit of creativity, you can accomplish this goal by making your resume so intriguing that colleges can’t wait to meet you. Regardless of whether it is published on LinkedIn, a similar site or attached to your Common Application, your resume should give your profile an extra boost. Here are some ways you can challenge yourself to create a standout resume before applying to colleges.

Get Published
Proving that you are a good writer through top grades and high SAT scores is one thing, but earning a byline is an excellent way to distinguish yourself. You can get started by writing for your school newspaper, and then reach out to local publications and pitch them that you can write articles from a student’s perspective. Look up online publications that are related to your interests and pitch article ideas to them.

If you don’t think you want to commit to writing for an established publication, you can also self-publish. Write a Medium post or a personal blog about the research you have completed, or summer camp and volunteer experiences. If you don’t have a blog yet, you can start one for free with WordPress, Tumblr or Wix.

Start A New Group
Find your passion and think outside the box to bring your interests to the rest of the community. If you love doing arts or crafts, you could consider starting a weekly summer program for local children. You could even visit a nursing home and do simple arts with the residents. Growing the group shows initiative and displays your leadership skills and resourcefulness to college admission officers.

Create Something Online
High school students who are technologically gifted might consider reaching out to a local, small nonprofit and offering their talents. You can help them revamp their website or build an app. Many nonprofits don’t have the budget to pay for professional design and creative services, so this would be an excellent chance for you to have a significant impact while honing your own skills.

You can also offer to run a social media campaign or create marketing materials for a nonprofit. You might even offer to write blog posts. Volunteering and creating meaningful work can be showcased on your resume, and you can link all your creations to your LinkedIn profile.

Making your high school resume more impressive to colleges isn’t as challenging as you might think. By taking the initiative, you can gain invaluable skills that will benefit you both in college and in your future career. You might also form new connections within your community and discover where your academic interests lie.

Free Courses For High School Students Interested In STEM by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

For the ambitious student, taking online classes is an excellent way to expand your knowledge, advance your education, and help your application stand out from a crowded field. Some high schools, faced with budget cuts and overfilled classrooms, have had to cut out intensive courses. This leaves them at a disadvantage, and lacking in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Other students want to challenge themselves further than what is offered at their school and must look for alternatives.

With STEM jobs on the rise, gaining exposure to this discipline is becoming increasingly important. Regardless of whether a student is looking to explore a career path, learn more about their intended major, or simply to add a new skill to their resume, there are options online for high schoolers to master STEM, without having to spend a dime.

Many of the offered courses are through accredited universities, created to allow for an even platform for learning. Students can find college-level classes that can showcase an impressive drive for learning to college admissions counselors. Here are some of the top free courses for high school students interested in learning STEM.

MIT OpenCourseWare
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has one of the largest collections of free OpenCourseWare (OCW) on the internet. A majority of their thousands of courses do cover STEM topics. “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python” and “Mathematics for Computer Science” are two of their most popular courses. No matter what your age or occupation is, you can find something of value with the MIT OCW content. There are no signups, enrollment, or deadlines you have to hit; you can learn on your own time.

Learn more: https://ocw.mit.edu

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative offers a variety of classes, many of which are free. Their courses do not have any start or end dates, and you won’t have any tests or receive any certifications at the end of it, but you can gain invaluable skills by the end of the course. A few of their offered courses include “STEM Readiness” and Chemistry.

Learn more: https://oli.cmu.edu/

Open Learning At Harvard
Through Harvard Extension School, motivated students have the chance to learn from the prestigious university. They offer free courses on a variety of subjects, including STEM courses such as Introduction to Game Development or Data Science Probability. The courses are all self-paced, and often do not require a big time commitment per week, making it easy for even a busy high school student to complete during the school year or summer.

Learn more: https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative

Apple’s “Everyone Can Code”
Apple created “Everyone Can Code” because the company realized how essential coding is, and it wanted to give everyone an equal platform to learn. The tech giant created the app-development curriculum using the Swift programming language that is incredibly easy to use. Through the app, users have to solve puzzles to master code. As you advance, the puzzles become harder, allowing you to learn complex code in a fun way. The only caveat is students will have to use an iPhone or iPad to download Swift Playgrounds.

Learn more: https://www.apple.com/everyone-can-code/

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one college counseling services. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

Junior Year Checklist

Junior year is a turning point for many families because it marks the year when college planning activities begin to consume your free time. It helps to go into your senior year with a plan, so start now to ensure that you are not falling behind.

Spring Of Your Junior Year

Meet With Your Counselor

Make sure you will complete all the requisites for your diploma. Take full advantage of the classes offered by your high school and schedule a rigorous course load.

Check on your class rank and your current GPA. If you haven’t performed as well as you had hoped the first two years of high school, it is not too late to change that. An upward trend in grades is something colleges like to see.

Standardized Tests

During the beginning of the semester, look up testing dates and locations for the SAT and or ACT. The tests are typically offered about once a month during the school year. Signing up for both can give you an advantage because you can decide which one highlights your strengths.

College Visits

Begin to narrow down your college selection and schedule visits to your top choices for the summer. Make sure those colleges fit the most important qualifications to you – size, location, cost, majors, or any special programs that are of interest.

Letter of Recommendations

Most schools require you to submit at least one or two Letters of Recommendations (LOR) from a teacher or guidance counselor. Additional letters can be written by a manager, a club leader, coach, or anyone you have formed a close relationship with recently. Begin to gather the material you will give each person to help them write the best LOR possible.

SAT Subject Tests

Start to do more research about what they require for admission, such as SAT Subject Tests. There are four policies regarding Subject Tests: required, recommended, considered, and alternative. If it is financially feasible for you to take the SAT Subject Tests, and schools on your list either require or recommend it, you can sign up and prepare for them in the spring and summer.

A small number of colleges have the policy that Subject Tests can act as an alternative to standardized testing; they allow an applicant to submit Subject Test scores in lieu of ACT and SAT scores.

FAFSA

Once you narrow down your college list, go to their websites to find out how much it costs per year to go there. Get to know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even though you can’t fill out the FAFSA until October 1 of your senior year, you can start to gather the necessary materials.

The Summer After Your Junior Year

The summer should be your time to get a headstart on your application process. Check out the Common Application to see their selection of essays and begin working on them as soon as possible.

Resume and LinkedIn

The Common Application has a limited character count for extracurricular descriptions, therefore, your resume can be used to expand on your accomplishments.

Your LinkedIn profile should be your online portfolio that adds another dimension to your application. You want to include videos, pictures, research papers, and anything else that can help to humanize you to the admissions staff.

The second semester of your junior year is an essential time for preparing for college. By starting early, you can put together a stronger application that might help you get into your dream college.

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one counseling services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

How To Get Accepted Into A BS/MD Program

Getting accepted into a medical program isn’t easy. In 2017-2018, the average acceptance rate hovered around just 7 percent. For the uber-competitive programs, the acceptance rate drops to below 3 percent. Because of this, many students decide instead to compete for a coveted spot in a direct medical program, also referred to as BS/MD.

A spot in this program guarantees the undergrad admission to medical school after completing program-specific criteria. High school seniors fill out just the one application that will essentially lock them into a career in medicine. While this can be a daunting commitment at such a young age, there are perks such as a shorter time at a university (some programs are only six or seven years instead of the typical eight) and greater flexibility over their course selection. However, many of these programs admit less than 20 students per year. To stand out, there are a few tips that students should follow.

Don’t Try to Do Everything

Most students applying for these types of programs will all have similar levels of grades, AP courses taken, and ACT/SAT scores. It can be incredibly challenging to stand out so students should develop a deep interest that they spend time and energy cultivating. By focusing on something related to the science or medical field, it can show that they can devote time and energy to a single task and do it well, which is more impressive than doing many activities at a mediocre level.

A memorable interest showcased on your resume helps bring your application to the top of the pile. You can achieve this through a shadowing position, volunteering, research work, or any other extracurricular activity where a deep interest is portrayed.

Concentrate on Science

Your academic transcript will be one of the first things looked at by the admission officers. GPA, rigor of courses, course selection, class rank, and standardized testing scores are all carefully scrutinized. Therefore, students should create a resume that will attract the notice of the BS/MD admissions office.

Students can do that by:
● Avoid taking too many AP courses; instead of enrolling in every AP course offered, take fewer classes and concentrate ones that are science-focused. By taking less AP courses, you can devote more time to extracurricular activities, which are another important factor in acceptance
● Not taking “easy” AP courses to bump up their GPA
● Focusing their coursework around science-based classes, in particular by taking advanced AP courses in science-related fields.

Spend Time Crafting a Stellar Personal Statement

The application essay is your chance to come alive and help establish you as a real person outside of the numbers. A direct medical program is a massive commitment; therefore the student must convey their conviction to this career path.

To write a persuasive essay, a student should:
● Tell a story with a purpose and emotion, that ultimately will bring the narrative back to you. By telling a memorable story, the admissions officers will be able to recall yours more easily.
● Refrain from repeating extracurricular activities that can easily be found in the application. The essay is your one chance to showcase your personality.
● Do not procrastinate. It will most likely take you longer than you think to write a compelling essay
● Answer the question “Why Medicine?” Use your essay to convey your maturity and powerful intent to study medicine by showing how your activities have prepared you for this program.

With thousands of students applying for these intense programs, make sure every aspect of your application, from the essay to your academics, to your activities revolve around medicine and science. Show you are prepared and have put serious consideration into your selected career path to make sure you stand out from the other applications and beat the odds.

SAT Subject Tests Explained by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

The SAT is one of the most well-known, and perhaps one of the most dreaded, college admissions tests. A little less infamous are the SAT Subject Tests, previously called the “Scholastic Achievement Tests” or SAT II. Some colleges, especially Ivy League and other selective institutes, require or recommend that you take SAT Subject tests, especially if you are applying for particular courses or programs.

The SAT Subject Tests are 20 subjects in 5 general subject areas, 1-hour-long, and multiple-choice. They focus on individual subjects and will test the applicant’s understanding of the overall subject material learned throughout their academic career. They are scored between 200 to 800 and the five main disciplines are English, History, Languages, Mathematics, and Sciences. Each of these categories has at least one subcategory underneath it.

SAT Subject Tests can be an essential piece in your college application. SAT Subject Tests will measure a student’s readiness for college-level courses. The tests are designed to measure knowledge in specific areas, so colleges can decide if the applicant can be exempt from college requirements. However, no matter how well you do you are not able to earn college credits.

The subcategories within each subject are as follows:

  • English: Literature
  • History: U.S. History, World History
  • Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latin, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese (Some will have an option to test listening comprehension and might require additional equipment)
  • Mathematics: Level 1- college preparatory including one year each of algebra and geometry. Level 2 – all subjects from Level 1, plus trigonometry and pre-calculus
  • Science: Biology – either Ecological or Microbiological, Chemistry, Physics.

The registration and test dates vary year to year, so it is essential that you check the website early to make sure you do not miss the deadline. They are offered six times a year and will correspond with the dates of the SAT, with one exception as the Subject Tests aren’t available in March. Not every discipline and their sub-category are available each testing date. Fees are also applicable and in some cases, can be waived for students from low-income families.

The SAT Subject Tests are not tied to any particular course on your transcript; they can be used instead to emphasize your abilities that are most relevant to your experiences and what you plan on studying in college. For example, if you already have a major or program in mind, taking a Subject Test in that subject matter can help showcase your qualifications or help with course placement.

Before preparing for the Subject Tests, check the requirements of each school you are applying to, and then choose the test you think will best demonstrate your talents and interests. Even if your perspective schools do not require them, you might want to consider taking the two to three tests. It can show your willingness to advance in your intended field and can help you stand out from the crowded playing field of applications.

Some students might benefit from taking the Subject Tests like international students, multilingual or ESL students, and homeschooled students. It can help validate your experiences or ensure that you are have learned the same material as other people your age who attended a more traditional U.S. high school.

Don’t confuse the SAT Subject Tests with Advanced Placement (AP) tests as they are very different tests. SAT Subject Tests are used as a baseline for a student’s understanding of the subject material from high school and do not count towards college credit. AP tests will cover college-level material and may count towards college credit.

Work the SAT Subject Tests to your advantage. Whether they are required or not, they can be a great asset on your transcript. Be selective in showcasing your skills, experiences, and interests so you can use them to help your college application stand out as much as possible.

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one college counseling services. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

The Secret to Gaining Acceptance to the Ivy League by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

Most high school seniors have college admissions on their mind. Many students have the same desire: opening an acceptance letter which says “Welcome to Harvard”.

It is no easy feat to be accepted to the Ivy League and top-tier universities throughout the U.S.

The admission rate for Stanford University hovers around 4%. It is not uncommon for a valedictorian to be rejected. The valedictorian, and their parents, are always shocked when this occurs. How could a student with a perfect GPA and test scores be rejected?

The answer is simple.

There are nearly 40,000 high schools across the country. That means 40,000 valedictorians. With only eight Ivy League universities, the number of valedictorians is more than three times the number of open slots. What this means is that these highly selective universities turn down students who are “perfect on paper” all the time. Being valedictorian is great, but it is definitely not enough to warrant admission to the most selective colleges in the country.

Academics are the first hurdle to overcome in the college admissions process, but there are additional hurdles.

Countless parents and counselors advise their students to be well-rounded, in terms of their academics, participation in sports, volunteering, extracurricular activities, etc.

I suggest that you do the exact opposite.

Most students, and people in general, work hard on improving their weaknesses. They try to present an adequate skill level across all areas. As a result, they are mediocre at most things. The well-rounded strategy backfires in most cases because the student comes across to the admissions officers as average in all fields and does not shine in any one field.

Harvard is not an average college, so why would they accept an average student?

I advise that students work diligently on their strengths. Forget about striving to be well-rounded. I see “pointy” students gain admission to the top universities in the country. They are exceptional in one, maybe two areas.

This strategy takes time to implement; it requires persistence and dedication to become a specialist in your field, and that is the exact reason why it is so extraordinary. The first time Tiger Woods picked up a golf club he was not a pro. Even Pablo Picasso had to start somewhere.

The university wants to know that you are willing to put in consistent, sustained effort in your chosen field until you achieve the kind of success that makes you stand out amongst your peers. ‘Pointy’ students demonstrate that they have the direction, the passion and have laid the groundwork to do this, and that is why they are preferred candidates for any university.

Top universities seek specialists: individuals who are so driven by one aspect or one field that they are enthusiastic about devoting their entire time and attention to achieve outstanding results in that area.

By choosing different students with ambition, initiative and demonstrated skills in different areas, the college builds a class that is well-rounded yet made up of ‘pointy’ students.

I will let you in on another secret.

The most innovative companies in the world – such as Apple, Google, and Amazon – follow the same strategy. They hire “pointy” candidates.

The “pointy” students stand out, not just in college admissions, but in life.

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one counseling services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

5 Things All Parents Need to Know About the FAFSA by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

College is a huge investment for many families and most need a little bit of financial help. If you are looking for ways to pay for college, one of the first resources you may turn to is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Every student qualifies for some form of student aid, so make sure you are not skipping this step during your application process. Over the past couple of decades, the Department of Education has streamlined the application process, but questions can still arise. If you or your child are applying to a college, here are five essential things you need to know about the FAFSA.

  1. What is FAFSA?
    The FAFSA is an annual form filled out by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student aid. It can be filled out by undergraduate and graduate students. The FAFSA can determine your eligibility for grants such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEC), federal work-study programs, loans, and scholarships.
  2. What information does the FAFSA provide you with?
    The FAFSA provides you with two critical pieces of information. The first is Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is an index number that the financial aid department uses to determine how much financial aid a student would receive if you attend that particular school. The information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate the EFC. The EFC is then calculated according to a formula established by law.The second piece of information is the Cost of Attendance (COA) which is the amount it will cost a student to go to school. Most colleges and universities will calculate a student’s COA to show the total costs of attending the school. Typically, the COA is an estimate of tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, miscellaneous expenses, childcare, disability or any reasonable costs for study-abroad programs.

     

  3. Does everyone need to complete the FAFSA?
    The short answer is, yes, you do. By not filling out the FAFSA, you are missing out on a good deal provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Students could be eligible for federal and state grants that do not to be repaid. Or they could be eligible for low-interest student loans and work-study programs, helping them to fund their education and build their resumes. Every student qualifies for some form of student aid.
  4. How do I complete the FAFSA?
    The FAFSA website is fafsa.ed.gov. Students will need their social security number, alien registration number (for non-U.S. citizens), federal income tax returns, W2s, and other records of money earned. These include bank statements and investment records, untaxed income records, and the student and parent’s FSA ID to sign the document electronically.
  5. What is the deadline?
    The deadline for the FAFSA is June 30th. The application opens October 1st, and you should complete it as soon as possible because many grants and scholarships are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Most schools have funds that are limited, so students have a better chance of receiving those funds, if eligible, when their FAFSA is submitted early.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one college counseling services. They guide students through the entire application process including completing the FAFSA.

How To Use Demonstrated Interest To Your Benefit by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

If you’ve read about tactics for improving your odds at college admissions, you may have heard the phrase “demonstrated interest.” What “demonstrated interest” means is your level of engagement and sincerity when researching and interacting with a school you may apply to. A school’s representatives specifically watch for this, as they are trying to gauge a prospect’s likelihood of actually enrolling if accepted. There are several ways to capitalize on demonstrated interest, and multiple opportunities.

The first thing that you can do to stand out from the typical flurry of admissions is to apply early. In addition to the normal window of time for admissions, there’s also an early-application period. Part of this window includes Early Decision and Early Action. When one applies for Early Decision, this automatically means that you will accept and enroll should admission be offered to you. This is very telling, as you are essentially assuring a particular school that they are your first choice. Early Action is non-binding, meaning you are not committed to a particular college by applying early.

Another way to demonstrate your interest is to tour the university; this may sound obvious, but it’s not always practical when a school is across the country, or perhaps across the globe. Visiting a campus and picturing yourself there is an investment of time on your part, which brings me to the next point.

When an appealing school is not within easy traveling distance and you can only devote yourself to visiting your top institutions, something you can do is attend a local college fair or information session. Most schools, if not all, hold various events throughout the country and the school year. Seeking out a particular school at a fair shows the representatives that you have planned to speak to them.

One other thing you can do to make yourself visible and memorable to a school representative or admissions officer is to engage with them in conversation. While they are certainly able to answer your generic questions about their course offerings, their campus, their local community, etc., they will gladly answer your more personalized questions regarding how a particular program may be a good fit for you, or any other questions you may have regarding their school and how you would do well there.

Each of these tactics will help you stand out to the representatives and admissions officers. Your biggest advantage is to be memorable. Consider that officers read application essays for between 8-10 hours per day during application season; set yourself apart from the paper.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one coaching services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.