Crunch time: Those who have been there offer advice for applying to colleges.
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 9:04 AM
Applying for college can be a long, grueling and stressful process, says Marley Coyne.
Coyne, a Booker T. Washington graduate, applied to 10 colleges during high school. Madeline Bull, a Jenks High School graduate, applied to 16.
Both are now freshmen in college - Coyne at the University of Pennsylvania and Bull at the University of Oklahoma.
Along with Terrie Shipley, the college admission counselor who guided them through the application process, they offer tips to current high school students and their parents to make the process easier.
For many high school seniors facing January deadlines, winter break is crunch time when it comes to completing college applications.
For those who have already done the bulk of the work, Shipley offers a couple of reminders.
First, go through your application with the eye of a critical copy editor.
"You want to comb over everything so that it is meticulous and perfect," said Shipley, who owns the Tulsa-based college admission consulting company College App Zap.
Everything down to the period after a street abbreviation is important toward making the best possible impression on an admissions counselor, she said.
Then, let several adults look at it. "Not just your parents but an outsider who may not know you," she said. The extra eyes, especially those with an outside perspective, can help catch errors, like unexplained acronyms that a student and parents are so accustomed to seeing that they think everyone else will understand.
For those with a bit more time to work on applications, including high school juniors or seniors facing later spring deadlines, Shipley has more advice.
First, she encourages students to apply to numerous universities. She suggests a handful, at least two.
Bull said even if you think you're sure that you want to attend a certain university, apply to others.
"What you think you want to do in August of your senior year is very different than what you want to do in May of your senior year," she said. "Having options is a really nice thing."
Shipley said having options is also important because, while you may get accepted into the university of your choice, it may not necessarily offer you the financial aid package you need.
Essays on college applications should be personal.
Bull said one of the things she learned from Shipley was that it was important to write in the first person rather than third person as she was accustomed to in school. This makes admissions counselors feel like you are talking to them rather than at them, Bull said.
Coyne said she was told that essays should also be concise, and that students should keep in mind that admissions offices are going through thousands of applications.
Shipley added that students should be careful not to repeat the same information in the essays that has already been mentioned in a resume or elsewhere on the application.
Bull said it is also important to explain why you would be an asset to the university, not just why you want to attend.
Coyne said having a close friend read your application can also be helpful because they can remind you of activities and experiences that would be good additions.
Finally, Shipley said you do not have to tailor each essay question to each university.
Universities often have similar essay prompts.
The first essay you write can serve as a template for the rest of your applications, and then you can add specific details, such as listing professors that make a certain university's degree program one of the best.
To make the process easier, Shipley said it is important to stay organized.
Create a folder for each university you apply to.
Place information about deadlines and required documents in the file. Also, be sure to remain organized electronically.
Clearly label drafts of your essays so you do not accidentally submit the wrong ones.
More tips for students
Original Print Headline: Crunch time
- Consider lesser-known, small schools that have a good program in your field of interest.
- Explore while you're in high school. Try different activities, then stick with the ones you like. They will give you good essay fodder.
- Follow up with admissions counselors. If you receive an award after submitting your application, don't be afraid to call and mention it, and reaffirm your interest in the university.
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Collin Mastbrock (left) and John Chau (foreground) walk from the ORU Learning Resource Center on campus in 2010. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World file
Marley Coyne, 19, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, sits in her home in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World