Prospective Students 101
College: The word that holds a myriad of different emotions.
It harbors so much excitement for the future, yet (in this moment) all it does is stress you out. Having just gone through the process myself, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Start Early
- When I was choosing schools to apply to, I researched what their requirements were, cost, etc. But, one of the most important aspects to applying is the school’s essay prompt. Essays are extremely time consuming, and luckily, the University of Illinois has the same prompt every year. I wrote my essay before the application came out and that gave me time to get feedback from my peers about any aspects of my essay that I should change. Also, by writing my essay for Illinois early, it gave me time to write my essays for schools that did not release their prompts ahead of time.
- Apply early action for any school that offers it.
- Waiting until December or January to submit your application sounds great right now, but when everyone else is hearing back from schools and you have to wait until the end of March, you’ll only be more stressed. However, early decision is binding and early action is non-binding, so make sure to pay attention to which one you’re applying for. When you apply early action, you will get a decision earlier (which will also give you more time to decide).
- Apply to a lot of schools, but don’t overdo it
- Apply to two safety schools, two middle of the road schools, and two reach schools. Honestly, that’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. Applying to 11 schools like I did is really only another way to stress yourself out and spend way too much money.
- Don’t get too hung up on one school.
- It’s okay to have a dream school. You definitely might get in, but there’s still always the chance that you won’t and it’ll be less heartbreaking if you let yourself seriously consider other options as well as your dream school.
- I seriously cannot stress this enough. Visit as many campuses as you can, all different types of them. Visit big schools and small schools. Keep an open mind and visit all different kinds of campuses. You’ll be truly surprised at what you might actually want. I always wanted to go to a small school, but after visiting the University of Illinois, I realized a large campus is the better option for me.
- Don’t let “Senioritis” to get to you.
- Colleges pay close attention to your senior year grades, and the possibility of your offer of admission being rescinded is possible. (You can read more about UIUC’s rescission policies here: https://admissions.illinois.edu/policies#policies-rescission).
Aside from all of this, don’t forget to enjoy your senior year. Although it is an incredibly stressful time, it’s also supposed to be fun, exciting, and memorable. While getting your applications done in a timely manner and doing your school work is incredibly important, always remember to take a break and relax.