Filling out an application – even starting an application – can be scary.  But it’s easier than you think. Here are my top 10 tips for starting and completing your college application:

  1. Start early. Getting an early start will give you plenty of time and lower your anxiety. The Common Application is available for you now – so you can work on your application even before the school year ends!                 
  2. Be honest. Always represent yourself in the best way possible, but make sure you keep it truthful.        
  3. Write a draft of your essay first before filling out the application. Many students find the essay to be the most time consuming part of their college application, so it may be helpful to start with the essay first.                
  4. Brainstorm your essay before writing anything. Jotting down ideas on paper of what you think you want to say can help you express your thoughts.       
  5. Know your grammar. Spelling, punctuation, and proper grammar are important. You want to make sure your application is polished. Have someone review it if possible.
  6. Answer one question at a time. No need to fill out the application all at once. Work on one question at a time – it will seem much easier.   
  7. Read the questions carefully. This seems obvious, but make sure you fully understand the questions they are asking and answer them to the absolute best of your ability.      
  8. Make a list of your activities, involvement, employment, and community service. Think through each of your high school years – remember how you were involved and all your activities. Don’t let any opportunity slip, no matter how small!          
  9. Anytime something is “optional” in the application, strongly consider doing it. Sometimes it’s those optional items that can set you apart from the rest.    
  10. Walk away. Once you’ve finished your application, and you think it’s done, walk away from it for a few days. Don’t think about college or your application. Then, come back to it several days later with fresh eyes and review it one last time before submitting.

About the Author

Cory McGann

Cory McGann has been a certified school counselor for the past seven years at public schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts. A graduate of Providence College, he is a passionate advocate for kids and helping them achieve their college aspirations....