When you’ve finally landed on your first pick for college, it’s quite an exciting time. You’ve done your research into the programs, campuses, and scholarships and have decided what schools you want to make a priority. If you haven’t picked your “first choice” yet, it might be due to a fear of committing to something you’re worried won’t happen. It’s hard to get your hopes up just to have them shattered by elements that feel out of your control. Don’t be afraid to make that commitment and dream to your greatest extent. Here are four tips that can help you get into your first choice.
Boost the appearance of your application materials.
Showing great effort in the materials you send to your top university can make a huge difference when it comes to first impressions. If your first-pick allows you to send hard copy materials, having customized presentation folders to provide them with your resume, essays, and other transcripts could be very impressive. A customized presentation folder might have your contact information on the front for easy access or even a sampling of your visual work if you’re seeking a degree in architecture or other design areas. A folder leaves behind something physical and unique that can help you stand out from the rest of the applicants.
If you don’t have that option initially to send your materials this way, wait until you get to go to an in-person interview. It will show that you care greatly about making a positive appearance. Why only send your top pick such great materials? By sending your folders to all of your other choices, you may find you have the pick of the litter when it comes time to make a final decision.
Take it slow.
Getting your college application in—especially for your first choice—doesn’t need to be a race. Obviously you need to meet the deadline, but don’t be afraid to keep your application open and in progress. If you know where you want to go, the second you’re able to “start an application,” for the year you’ll be applying, take that opportunity to see what kind of information they’re going to be asking for and begin to plan accordingly.
You might be surprised by what kind of information they want to know in addition to essays, statements, and test scores. Often, there is a section asking about your criminal record. It’s best to be open in this section, considering that the majority of colleges will run a background check for college admission. Knowing what they ask of you in the application may give you time to get something expunged from your record in order to make you a completely viable candidate. If you have your application open, don’t forget to save your progress every time you log off.
Ready your letters of recommendation.
In order to get into any of your first choices, you’re going to need stellar letters of recommendation. Whether you’re trying for a graduate-level business degree or your Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting, the university wants to get an idea of what your relationship is like with other people. They particularly want to know how you work within academia as well as your field of interest. If you want a well-written and edited letter of recommendation, you need to give your references some time. Let them know early that you’d like to utilize them and ask them if they think they’ll have time to help you.
Get the inside track.
In order to get into your first school of choice, it’s not a bad idea to try to make a personal connection with the faculty of the field you’re interested in. Set up a meeting or an email correspondence as a potential student. Prepare specific questions that show your interest in their program. You’re more likely to stand out in the crowd if they have a more personal connection to you.