Expert Advice on Acing the College Application Process

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For high school seniors, fall is the height of college application season. Iowa College Aid urges all graduating seniors to begin applying to college if they haven’t already so there will be ample time to make the best decision and meet important deadlines. This process can seem quite daunting, so we encourage students to reach out to counselors, teachers and other education professionals to guide them. We spoke with Coe College Associate Director of Admission Josh Kite so he could share advice with students going through the application process.

Students who feel their high school grades aren’t the best reflection of their capabilities should still apply to schools even if they don’t meet all the admissions requirements. A college or university may have special policies or programs to assist students who performed poorly in high school. It’s up to each student to communicate with respective colleges about how he or she will do better in postsecondary coursework.

“The best thing for students to do in this case is be proactive. For example: students can write why their grades suffered their sophomore year and what they are doing now to get on the right track,” explained Kite.  “The more communication a student has with their admission representative, the better.”

Some colleges and universities will require students to write a personal essay as part of the application process. Topics can range from detailing a significant experience that impacted the student’s life, to discussing a current events topic. Students should take full advantage of this opportunity to display their creativity and individuality.

“I will say one of my favorite parts of reading an application is reviewing the essay or personal statement.  This is an opportunity for students to really think outside of the box and showcase their true personality,” remarked Kite.  “There was a specific student that actually wrote her essay in the form of a puzzle.  I found this to be extremely thought-provoking and actually called the student that night to show my appreciation for her essay.”

Lastly, students shouldn’t forget to relax during the college planning process. There is always help available from the student’s potential college, so enjoy senior year and what’s in store next.

“Breathe. I know this can be a very stressful time for a senior in high school, but this is also one of the most exciting times in an individual’s entire life. Also, please never hesitate to reach out to a college admission counselor for help,” advised Kite. “We are here to guide students through the admission process and there is no question too small or too silly.”

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