As a student athlete at UChicago, my college application process started early on when I began the recruitment process during my sophomore year of high school, talking to college coaches and pitching to each coach why they would want me to play soccer for their team and why I would be a good fit for their school. By the time I reached my senior year, I had decided that I would be applying to University of Chicago through the Early Decision process. Lots of students have varying experiences throughout their college search, so I wanted to share with you a list I compiled of general advice that my peers have for all of you who are going through the college application process.
Be yourself. Play to your strengths and showcase your best qualities in your transcripts, essays, etc. Be genuine and have fun with your essays – here is your chance to be creative and show the admissions office who you are! (Inspired by Selma C. ’23 and Rahim R. ’22)
Think about YOU. When choosing a school, look for a school where you can see yourself being happy at, not necessarily where you think you “should” go. You will likely feel a lot of pressure from many people – your teachers, family, coworkers, friends – but remember that ultimately, you are the one who is going to go through the next four years. Make sure you are thinking about yourself and what kind of college experience you want to have. (Inspired by Patrick Y. ’21 and Christian D. ’23)
Ask questions. If you need help during the process, reach out to your advisors or even an admissions counselor. And if you can, talk to current students who attend the colleges that you are interested so you can get a personal first-hand account of what it is like being a student there! (Inspired by Caroline W. ’23 and Andrew G. ’23)
Set deadlines. If at all possible, set a deadline ahead of your actual college application deadlines. That way, you get your essays done ahead of time and have some wiggle room to edit. And make sure you take care of yourself throughout the process. Celebrate finishing an essay by doing something fun with your family or friends, and get your favorite snack to munch on while you fill out the activities section. (Inspired by Jordan T. ’22 and Caroline W. ’23)
Be proud of your accomplishments. The process can feel incredibly overwhelming and difficult to manage. Focus on yourself. No one has the secret magic recipe that will get them into college. All of your peers are as nervous as you, so try to block out the noise of everyone constantly talking about college. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are and you’re doing great! (Inspired by Ciara C. ’21)
I also wanted to share a few resources that UChicago has that can help prospective students through the process. I knew that I wanted to attend UChicago after visiting the school and talking with current students who attended. Since on-campus visits aren’t being offered right now, you can check out our virtual campus tour. If you want to chat with some current students, you can talk with them here. And while I am not one of those current students, I along with other students have written many blog posts for the Uncommon Blog and I encourage you to check out some of my posts about housing, campus life, sports, research, and more!
I want to end with this last piece of advice told to me by my friend Marcus M: “The university does not make the experience, you do. That is to say, colleges and universities across the country are unique with different programs of study, resources, clubs, etc. and while it is easy to evaluate a school based on its stats, all universities are designed to set you up for success. The best way to get the most out of your college experience is to come in with an open mind and take advantage of opportunities when they are presented!”
Best of luck in the admissions process. I’m rooting for you, anonymous reader:)