3 Things I Learned During the College Application Process
From writing essays to preparing for interviews (while taking classes), it may seem like you're drowning in work. Despite all this, I learned a lot from my application process.
- No. 1
Who I was
I remember beginning my personal essay for college applications. I stared at a blank Google Document for hours and thought that I was never going to complete this essay. From reading College Confidential, prep scholar blogs, and the occasional Reddit post, I learned that what I needed to do was simply expose my “true self” to these admissions officers. Does that sound confusing? Well, it did to me. I spent days writing random sentences that didn’t connect. Those days turned into weeks which turned into months. Who was I? How was 17-year-old me supposed to write about my life in 650 words? After attending information sessions and college conferences, I became more aware of the fact that admissions officers are not interested in seeing a fabricated version of yourself. Instead, they just want to get to know YOU better. I learned to accept this, and I began reflecting on my extracurriculars, my family, my background, my accomplishments, and what made me happy. Who was I? I still may not know. BUT, I came closer to embracing my quirky, untraditional self and how I apply that to my academics and extracurriculars. Whether I'm making educational songs or studying with my potato Socrates, I learned to let my quirkiness shine through my application and my daily life here at Dartmouth. My advice to you: take some time to reflect on yourself before writing your personal statement. Think about what makes you happy, what you enjoy doing, and what makes you stand out. Do you have a unique tie to your culture? Was there something noteable to you that influenced your personality? Remember, colleges want to see YOU!
- No. 2
What was important to me
After all of that internal reflection, I asked myself one question: Why? Why did I participate in student government? Why was I passionate about the medical field? Why did I do any of it? I searched for common threads and came to a conclusion: I value community. I sought for and will always strive for an inclusive and safe environment where all members can thrive. Though I’m still not certain of my career choice or my entire life plan, I know that advocating for my community will be a significant aspect of it. This connected to which schools I applied to because I searched for the ones that dedicated themselves to inclusitivity, service, and equality. My advice to you: reflect on moments where you had a unique determination to accomplish something. Do you see that common thread yet?
- No. 3
Productivity and time management skills
Let me be honest here: no, I did not enjoy writing supplements, brainstorming personal essay topics, or filling out financial aid forms while completing my senior year assignments. But, I did become a more productive person because of it. I began reorganizing my schedule and creating lists of tasks to complete on a given day. This period included my peak productivity! I was running from completing projects on the cell cycle to writing “why us” essays. Was it a perfect process? Not in the slightest. But, I did learn some tips and tricks that I still carry on to this day, such as my post-it to-do list! With this list (pictured above), I place individual Post-Its with a task written on it under the "To Do" column. Throughout the day, I will move the Post-It along the wall until it is successfully under the "Done" column. Nothing made me happier then seeing "submit Dartmouth application" under that column. My advice to you: see what helps you remain productive! Is it taking breaks through the day? Is it doing something physical like moving Post-Its? Is your phone too distracting? Take a second to breathe and look at your routine. This is your moment to shine—take advantage of the time you have!