A major component of the application process in any college’s application is the personal statement or essay. It is important that you follow the required word limit, stay on topic, and write with conviction. It is okay to have someone else edit it for you, but make sure to be yourself!

One of the most daunting tasks seniors must complete this year, besides scholarship applications, is college applications. After choosing their school(s) of choice, seniors need to fill out the standard personal information, write the college essays, request letters of recommendations, and finally submit the application to the university. The following items are tips for “spicing up” any college application:

1. Raise those scores!

SAT and ACT scores are extremely important in the admissions process. Each university has it’s own set of minimum requirements for each test, as well as special preferred tests, like the SAT Subject test, the ACT with writing exam, or the SAT test over the ACT. It is also important that you prepare for these exams and create a study plan. The Princeton Review, Kaplan, and College Board all have top-notch guides to prepare.

Also, keep taking the tests until you get the scores you want! You can take the tests as many times as you like and you choose which scores to submit. Some colleges even “super score.” Super-scoring is when the university will accept the highest score from each section of each attempt and add them together to create a “super score.”

2. Write an amazing essay!

A major component of the application process in any college’s application is the personal statement or essay. It is important that you follow the required word limit, stay on topic, and write with conviction. It is okay to have someone else edit it for you, but make sure to be yourself!

It is also wise to be creative with your essay. Admissions officers read thousands of application essays each year and it is important that you are remembered. Keeping that in mind, make sure you communicate your point quickly. Officers typically spend a maximum of 1-2 minutes reading your essay, so it is crucial to “hook” the reader within the first paragraph.

3. Request those recommendations!

Colleges want to know how you will fit in with their student body and learning environment. It is imperative that the educator, employer, or community member you request a recommendation from knows you well enough to write a detailed and accurate letter of recommendation. It should elaborate on your work ethic, classroom participation, and attitude.

Remember to request these documents earlier rather than later. Don’t wait until the week before your application is due. Also, make sure to thank them for their time and effort put into writing your college application recommendation.

4. Be mindful of deadlines!

Applications have a deadline for a reason: If you can’t make an application deadline, how are you going to complete a ten-page research paper for a course? There are a variety of options concerning deadlines for college.

You can apply for Early Decision/Action, in which you only apply to one school and agree to attend upon submitting the application if accepted. This deadline is normally in November or early December; however, only a few select schools use this type of deadline.

There is also the regular deadline if you did not want to apply for early acceptance, normally ranging from early December to mid-February, in which you may apply to as many schools as you want. Upon receiving rejection/acceptance letters, you can choose which school to attend.

5. Be yourself!

Colleges want to learn about you through the admissions process and to see if applicants “fit” into their school environment. It is important to be a well-rounded individual who has taken advantage of educational opportunities, participated in community service activities, active in clubs/organizations, and follows a career-oriented passion they wish to pursue in higher education. Admissions officers want applicants with motivation and enthusiasm for education. Underneath searching to see if you met all of the criteria and requirements for a school, is the motivation to find an applicant who could make their school a better place.