Strategies for Starting Your College Application Process

College search tips from Brian Apfel, Director of Social Media in the Marist College Admission Office. Enjoy!

1. Visit college campuses. One of the biggest mistakes students make as they apply for admission is to think “I will wait to visit until I hear if I have been accepted.” An admission visit is one of the best ways to experience what college life will be like at that institution. Visiting colleges also provides a valuable resource for you, current students. You can learn a lot about a college from their community. Marist tour guides will even provide their personal contact information so you can stay in touch throughout your college search process. Finally, the visit is a great way to express your interest in a school, which may play a part in the admission decision-making process.

2. Utilize Social Media. Social Media can be a great way to learn about day-to-day life at a college. Search for the schools you are interested in and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.

See the links to the Marist Social Media accounts in the right column!

3. Narrow down your list. Hopefully by now you have started researching schools that you think would be a good fit. Now it is time to start narrowing down your list to the schools you plan on applying to. To do that, you need to know what you want. Don’t pick a school just because it’s highly ranked or because all of your friends are applying. Think about your specific needs. Strongly consider the importance of distance from home, class size, academic and extracurricular offerings, etc. Most important, remember college is an investment in your future. What college gives you the most confidence for a successful career after graduation?

affordability4. Research application and financial aid requirements. Once you narrow down your list of colleges, develop a spreadsheet on which you can track the application requirements, essay topics, submission deadlines, etc. You can then use that spreadsheet to mark off what you have sent and still need to send to complete your application. If you know that you will need financial assistance in order to attend college, now is the time to begin exploring your options. Research financial aid application requirements, speak to financial aid representatives, and investigate sources of independent scholarships. I always advise students not to make decisions of where to apply based on the cost of the school. Instead, apply, get accepted, review your scholarship/financial aid, and then decide if the college will be a good financial fit for you and your family.

Requirements Spreadsheet Example

Marist Affordability Guide

5. Decide who you will ask for letters of recommendations, and ASK! Your college adviser, teachers, coaches, and employers are positioned well to help you tell your story when you apply for admission. The earlier you ask for a recommendation the more time they have to develop a letter for you and make sure they have the information included to enhance your application.

US News – 5 Tips for Securing Recommendation Letters

6. Do not wait, start TODAY! Almost every college you apply to is going to have an application, résumé, and essay requirement. We all know that providing information about your activities, experiences, and accomplishments will give colleges a better sense of what you have to offer. But how do you make your information stand out from the thousands of other students applying to colleges this year? The simplest answer is the more time your give yourself, the more opportunities you have to write, proofread, and improve your information. There are also a lot of great resources available online to help. I have added links to some of my favorites throughout this article. Finally, remember that most college applications (including Marist’s and Common Application’s) give you the ability to start, save, and revisit your work. So sign on today, create an account, and let the games begin!

Huffington Post – 6 Terrific Pieces of Advice for Writing College Application Essays

The College Board – How to Create Your Résumé

Apply to Marist Today!

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