What Should I Know About Completing School Applications?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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Private schools and institutions of higher education use school applications as one way to get to know prospective students as they consider them for admission. Taken together with interviews, grade reports, test scores, and recommendations, school applications help round out the school’s picture of the applicant with the applicant’s own words. These admissions applications are most often separate from scholarship applications and financial aid applications.

The first thing to consider when completing school applications is that the admissions officers who are receiving them, receive a very large number of them. And there are some things they can see without even beginning to read. You can make this “first glance” count by doing the following:

  • Fill in the blanks. Don’t skip questions unless they’re optional.
  • Take care of the document. Keep it in a manila folder if you have to so its stays fresh and neat looking, not dog-eared and scruffy.
  • Use your best penmanship. If the document is not made to be filled in on-line, write neatly and legibly. You want the focus to be on what you have to say, not trying to figure out what you said.
  • Write or type your answers and spell check them. This will help you avoid cross outs, erasures, and mistakes.

The second important thing to consider with school applications is the need for honesty. Just as with any form you sign your name to, an application asks for your truthful input. Admissions officers will more readily contextualize and forgive past mistakes than they will dishonesty.

The essay is another important part of many school applications. Some schools allow students to choose a piece of writing that represents their best efforts or choose what topic they wish to focus on, in which case a student may prefer to use a piece that has been worked on in a class, and had the benefit of that process.

Other schools include prompts that are so specific that the student must write a new piece. In this case, writing the piece and leaving some time before finalizing it is likely to give new perspective. If a school provides a prompt, use the style of the prompt to judge what kind of answer is being invited. Some prompts are purposely designed to show a student’s creativity, while others may focus more on accomplishments. Given a choice, consider which topic will show you to best advantage.

Students with a disability that raises any issues for fulfilling the demands of the school application should contact an admissions officer for explicit instructions. Describe the special circumstances and allow the admissions officer to guide you to an appropriate solution.

One special thing to note: admissions officials have learned that Googling a student's name and reading any open material on the web gives them a more complete view of their applicants. If you have public postings on-line, you may wish to review them prior to sending in your application.



Discuss this Article

Post 2

@Babalaas - I just got accepted to Arizona State University, and the application process had no essay. It was actually a fairly easy application process. As long as I met the GPA, and other, requirements I was accepted. I applied as a transfer/non-traditional student, so I did not need to forward any standardized test scores; just a high school Transcript. For me, the hardest part came after I was accepted. I had to get course equivalencies from a school in Florida; one that ASU had no established transfer agreement with. It involved a lot of back and forth, and hoping that courses will be accepted. The application for transfer students is often different, and can pose new challenges for students. Transfer students have already proven that they belong in school. The hard part is proving what you learned is up to par with the new schools standards.

Post 1

This was a great article. Filling out college applications can be both nerve wracking and exciting. They can also be expensive, so you want to make sure that they are filled out completely. When I sent out my first applications out of high school (2000) applications were a little different than they are now. I applied to Michigan State, Ohio State, UConn, Northeastern, UVM, and Florida A&M. I had to write essays for all of them. I felt that next to my test scores, this was the most important part of the application. I tried my best to make my essays unique. I asked my favorite English teacher, my sister, and some friends to review my essays and give me feedback. I wanted to convey my personality, and give the schools a reason to believe that I would be a successful student if I were admitted. The end result of my hard work was six fat acceptance letters in the mail. Remember, the application process is your one chance to prove yourself to a university, so be thorough.

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