The college admissions season is in full swing, so I was pleased to hear from Mike Sexton, the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Santa Clara University. When asked what he thinks every college applicant should know, Mike offered these five tips:
- Be yourself in your essay. College applications are not the time to try to become someone you're not. Whether you write about your trip to Mexico or your grandmother's banana pancakes, the essay needs to showcase and reflect who you are and what you bring to the table. If you can substitute your name with someone else's, the essay isn't about you.
- Imagine how your life is going to look in an admissions folder. You control what goes in that folder, so know what's in it. Get a copy of your transcript - does anything look odd? Is there a dip in your grades? Do you have an explanation for that? Is there something about you that colleges should know but there wasn't a space for it on the application?
- Print out the application, fill it out with a pencil, and then fill it out online. You'll make fewer mistakes, and you'll see it from the admissions point of view.
- Follow directions. Some schools require extra information; others specifically say they don't want it.
- Ask questions if you are unsure about requirements. There's a reason why universities have toll-free telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Web sites, so don't hesitate to use them.