College application advice from Manual seniors

These tips will help students eventually earn a college diploma.
These tips will help students eventually earn a college diploma.
Isabella Edghill

College application season is among the most stressful times for high school seniors nationwide. The looming deadlines, overwhelming amount of writing supplements and documents needed for admission. Many students, especially high-achieving students like those at Manual, often report feeling overly stressed during the first semester of their senior year when applications are commonly due. When these students start this application process, they often feel lost and without a plan on where to begin with the overwhelming amount of work they see ahead of them. 

As the class of 2024 sends in their final application, it’s time for the class of 2025 to begin thinking of their future. In an effort to make this process easier for rising seniors, here’s advice from current Manual seniors. To make the college application process much easier for the class of 2025 and beyond. 

The Common App, is a college admissions application for students to apply to over 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, China, Japan and many European countries. 

Keller Mobley (12, JC) explains how the Common App helped to make her college application process less stressful. 

“The Common App helped me stay organized throughout my application processes. It also was super helpful to have all of my applications in one place,” Mobley said when asked her opinions on the Common App. According to the Common Apps website, “more than one million students use our application yearly.” This makes the Common App one of the most used ways for students to submit their applications. 

“Common App is straightforward and has many helpful features to help you with the college application season. I highly recommend everyone to use it if they can,” Mobley said. 

Make your Common App account now to get ahead of the game and make the application season as worry-free as possible. With so many schools to keep track of when applying for colleges, many students found it helpful to keep a Google Spreadsheet containing all their college information in one place. 

Eleanor Peterson (12, YPAS) is one student who found using a spreadsheet helpful during her college application process.

 “On my spreadsheet, I put important information like acceptance rates, tuition costs, application deadlines, and financial aid information,” Peterson said. Having all this information in one place, it organizes it all on one sheet which is easier than constantly looking through the college’s websites. Google spreadsheets are also free, so there is no need to worry about paying for another resource, as the college application season can get expensive with application fees. 

“The spreadsheet helped me stay organized and on top of my deadlines,” Peterson said. In addition to letters of recommendation, copies of transcripts and supplemental essays, most college applications will ask you to submit a personal essay about something important in your life. You can use this same essay whenever a school asks for a personal essay, so it must be your best work that you will submit shamelessly. 

Griffen Farnsley (12, YPAS) explains why starting the topic brainstorming process and the personal essay early benefitted her overall application season. 

“When you start the writing process early, you have more time to send your essay off to more people for them to make edits and suggestions. Your final product will absolutely not be what you started with but that is okay,” Farnsley said. Also, it is important to have many people read and comment on your essay before submitting it. You will likely do many different drafts of your personal essay before submitting it. Getting lots of eyes and opinions on your paper will help it to become the best version possible to submit to your schools. 

One of the most stress-inducing parts of the college decision process is being able to afford the cost of the school. Some more prestigious colleges cost upwards of $60,000 a year, and you are stuck paying that price to attend them. Although Chase Phillips (12, YPAS) found the financial parts of college worrisome, he felt very prepared because he started to research and apply for scholarships he was eligible for early to take advantage of the most money he could receive. 

“Many of the bigger scholarships are due really early, so if you do them at the same time or earlier than when you submit your applications, you will be eligible for the most opportunities through colleges and other organizations,” Phillips said.

Although many universities offer significant scholarships, many large national corporations and foundations also provide scholarships. For example, Taco Bell has a Live Más scholarship program that awards high-achieving students with money that can be used at any public university in the country. Start researching these scholarships now to have the best chance of receiving them. 

Taking time to visit college campuses you may be interested in can be extremely helpful in finalizing your list of schools to which you will ultimately apply. By visiting campus, you can decide whether or not it feels like a good fit for you simply by how you feel during your visit. 

Aleicea Watson (12, HSU) took many college visits to begin her college discovery and decision process early. 

“These visits helped me to figure out the size of the campus and distance from home,” Watson said. Which are crucial parts of the visits. Watson had a unique situation because she went through the recruitment process for volleyball. If you’re apart of a sport team its nice to meet players and coaches in person to influence your decision further. Nevertheless, she agreed that visiting campuses early, athlete or not, was extremely helpful for narrowing down the schools she would continue the application process.

Letters of recommendation are required for most colleges to thoroughly complete their applications. These letters must be written by a teacher you have previously had and feel like you have a good connection with. Kaavya Thirumurugan (12, MST) began asking her teachers for recommendation letters the summer before her senior year.

“It is important to ask your teachers for letters early so you can stay ahead of your own application processes and to avoid the stress of your teachers writing you a mediocre letter of recommendation and not being able to finish by your deadlines,” Thirumurugan said. 

With super strict deadlines for every school, taking time with this process is in your best interest. Also, many teachers have a set number of letters they are willing to write in one year, so it is essential to ask the summer before your senior year to ensure that you get your top teachers to agree to write your recommendations. 

Of course, it is not required to go into college declaring a major, but it is important to look into your schools of interest and find out if they have programs and majors that interest you. For example, if you’re interested in animal science and the school you’re considering does not have that program, it is likely not a school you want to continue pursuing if it is essential to your future. 

Leena Bandaras (12, MST) found that only considering colleges that had her major of choice made her process easier and were the only schools she considered any further. 

“It is super important to research schools and their programs early so that the rest of the process is not too stressful. This will help you to not feel lost and overwhelmed once your senior year begins,” Bandaras said. Beginning this research process as early as possible will help find the best college or university for you. 

Hopefully underclassmen will find this information helpful to make their college application process as smooth as possible. The college application process may be scary, but it is all worth it in the end when you’re sure of what you want to do in life.

About the Contributors
Liv Ashley, Staffer
Liv Ashley is a staffer for Manual RedEye. You can contact her at [email protected].
Isabella Edghill, Webmaster
Isabella Edghill is Webmaster for Manual RedEye this year. She enjoys reading and playing the violin, and is passionate about exploring issues around diversity, identity and empowerment. You can contact her at [email protected].
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