Things like profile and academics are activities students do naturally in high school. While it takes time to plan it, they are lot less deliberate than this last aspect of your admissions chances – the application itself.
The US is notorious for their challenging and time-consuming application. While in UK, Canada or Singapore students write around 1 essay and outline their activities in a few sentences, the US wants you to do more.
The main application deadlines vary by university, but most have the final deadlines for submission in the first half of January. Students who want to apply to a college early can do so by November 1st, and they will receive decisions in December.
Firstly, remember that you will need recommendations. At a minimum, we advise students to think of getting 3: 1 school college counsellor recommendation, and 2 academic teacher recommendations. Ideally, these teachers taught you an advanced class in a subject you indicated interest in (if you have at all).
As such, remember to tell your school early!
The most important part of your application, however, will be the essays. If you are applying to 10 universities, the number of essays you’d have to produce can be quite a lot. Here are some examples:
- The Common App Essay: This essay is part of the Common App application, used by more than 80% of American colleges. The essay is 650 words minimum, and it can be on almost any topic – from a challenge you’ve overcome to an idea you debated. This essay will be seen by ALL your universities on the Common App system.
- The Supplement: The College Supplement is specific to any university. When you decide which college you want to apply to and put in your list, they will ask you to fill in an application specific to that university only. Some universities like Stanford ask you to write more than 3 long essays, while others, like New York University (NYU), only have one.Topics can range from very creative (What can actually be divided by zero? – University of Chicago) to specific and argumentative (Why do you want to study your major at X university).
- Independent Applications: Some universities have their own applications that are not linked to the Common App. They will likely require more essays. These universities include University of California or MIT.
So, if you apply to at least 5 universities, you might end up having to write 12-18 essays at the very least. A lot of the essay material students use come from their life experiences and profile, but it is also important to showcase creativity, uniqueness, and a strong ability to write well. Most Prep Zone students start crafting their essays at least in June or July before their last year in high school, so they can be ready by the January deadlines.
Finally, there are a few more things that can be a part of your application that depend on universities. Some universities conduct interviews. Do not worry! There, you tell the interviewer – usually an alumnus of a college – about your personality, hopes, aspirations. It is semi-formal, and usually not very scary.
Some universities with a more professional outlook may allow you to submit a CV or resume. Others, especially if you apply to design, architecture or art programmes, will ask you to submit a portfolio of your past works.
Remember: if you are an engineering, art, or business applicant, you may have to write even more essays. While students can choose their major in Year 2, these specific specialties often require a pre-application to be eligible to choose them later on.