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College Application Season: The Ins & Outs of Applying

Here at Mission, we see the amount of dedication, time, and effort our students put into their college applications each year. As we step into the season, with new challenges and decisions on the horizon, we understand that students and their families may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about where to begin. In support of our high school seniors, our Learning to Work College-Career Specialists and Advocate Counselors are sharing advice to help each student navigate their applications and find success.

Our staff has put together a comprehensive list of tips that we will share throughout October, touching on each aspect of the process. Today, we're starting with an overview of the ins and outs of applying - from understanding fee waivers, to deciding if early admission is right for you, to writing your personal statement.

Understand the Steps

  • Make a checklist of what you will need to complete or provide for each application. This can include supplemental essays or materials, application fee waivers, and additional personal information.

  • Remember that each college may have different requirements for their specific application.

  • Determine if the colleges you're applying to have application fee waivers - you can email the school directly, research on their website, or use the online tool BigFuture.

  • Always check in with your college counselors, teachers, family members, and peers with questions or concerns about the process.

  • The process doesn't end once you press the submit button! Be sure to follow up to make sure all application materials have been received by the university.

Decide What Works for You

  • Make note of the difference between early decision and early action - if you apply early decision to a school and are accepted, it is binding. For early action, you will find out about your acceptance in advance, but it is not binding.

  • Only apply early decision if you are absolutely sure you want to attend a particular school.

  • Apply early action to as many schools on your list that offer it, and that fit within your personal criteria.

  • Check to see if the college you're interested in has rolling admissions and if so, apply early.

Interview Insights

  • Do not be afraid to be your authentic self!

  • Come with your own questions about the school culture, the academics, or whatever you would like to hear more about from the admissions staff.

  • Remember: the interview is not just about seeing if you're a fit for the school, it is also about finding out if the school is the right fit for you.

Writing Your Personal Statement

  • Don't be afraid to make multiple drafts, and share them for feedback with those that you trust. Ask them, "does this sound like me?"

  • If you are working in Google Docs, there is a voice to text option - use it freely to help you sort out your thoughts and ideas.

  • Tell your story, not only what you think others want to hear. For some ideas, make a list of a few experiences, challenges, or people that have played an instrumental role in your life.

  • Determine the central message or big idea that you hope the admissions officers will take away from reading the essay before you begin writing to focus your thoughts.

We hope you were able to take away a few helpful tips and tools! Stay tuned for more about scholarships, financial aid, and managing stress this season.

Thank you to our Learning to Work specialists, Jolisa Smith, Phoebe Kuo, and Lily Scheyhing for putting together these amazing tips for students.

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