In the years I have spent working in the Office of Admissions, I have read over 4,000 admissions applications submitted by students from across the country. I could not tell you the number of conversations I have had, or the number of emails I have sent in connecting with students and their families – and what a ride it has been to be a part of their college search and application journeys! While I am thrown the occasional curve ball, and while the subject matter might not always be the same, the great majority of questions I receive concern themselves with the same thing: the admissions application. So many other students and families are asking the same questions you have about the application process. So, in the spirit of answering a few of these questions and assuaging a few of your concerns, here are a few things you might benefit from thinking about before and after you press that submit button.
Before The Button
The best and most consistently offered piece of advice I give a student who is beginning the college search process is to visit as many schools as possible. A campus visit aids in narrowing a student’s scope of interest into a manageable list of schools to which a student will apply.
Once “the list” is complete and you are ready to begin assembling all the different pieces of your applications, let’s take a moment to organize. Organize your deadlines. List the components to each application you intend to submit. What a special process this is – the college application process. At times it may seem like every institution to which you are applying has a different name for their fall application round, a different deadline by which you must compile certain materials, and a different set of means by which to submit them. And it may seem that way because that it very well may be the case! It’s important to collect your thoughts and organize before the application process begins.
Now that we know where we will be applying and by when those applications are going to be submitted, perhaps we should address the application itself. Whether you have created a Common App account or not, by the time you have begun your senior year, you have already completed the majority of your application. By that point, you have joined the clubs. You have volunteered the time. You have earned the grades and taken the tests. Now all that is left to do it is get that information to us, the colleges and universities to which you intend to apply. In the spirit of attempting to answer your questions and assuage your concerns, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- When listing your extracurricular involvements, start by listing what is both relevant and recent. Just as is the case when organizing your resume, you want to lead with your strongest and most impressive experiences.
- In your essay, take time to think about what you want to write about – “what you want to write about,” not in the sense of choosing a topic. Rather, think about what it is you want to say. What convictions do you hold? What argument do you want to make? The best essays are those that give voice to an application. Rather than asking yourself, “would this make a good college application essay,” ask yourself, “Who am I and what do I have to say?”
- Proofread. Need I say more?
After You Submit
While much of what is included above can be ~applied~ (no pun intended) to most four-year colleges and universities, much of what is to come is specific to the Furman University application process.
Once submitting your admissions application via www.commonapp.org you will gain access to your Online Status Page, where you will be able to view your application’s missing items (usually supporting documents that have not yet arrived from your high school, testing institution, etc.). Eventually, you will be able to view your admissions decision on your Online Status Page as well. Consider this “home base” for your Furman Application.
After submitting your application, much like we organized our application dates and deadlines “before the button,” know when and how you will be notified of your admissions decisions. Furman notifies students at 5:00pm EST via their Online Status Page. Furman also puts your decision letter in the mail on that same day, so it should arrive several days after your online decision is able to be viewed.
Let’s also think about applying for Financial Aid. The link below is really a “one-stop shop” for information about financial aid at Furman. Of particular interested to you should be the institutional codes that trigger your CSS Profile and your FAFSA to be sent to Furman. Also important are the Priority Filing Dates, listed at the end of the webpage. It’s important to complete BOTH the FAFSA and the CSS Profile. Perhaps you do not think you and your family will qualify for financial aid, but in the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, I always recommend it. Should you, indeed, apply for financial aid, you can expect to be notified of your Financial Aid Package about a month after your Admissions Decision.
To wrap up, I’ll keep it short and sweet:
We know this can seem like a crazy process. However, the set of skills you learn in putting together your college applications – taking on a new process, navigating how to self-advocate, and so many more – is a set of skills you will be able to carry with you far beyond the years you spend on campus. Use the resources you have at your disposal and embrace the challenge.
You can do this.
You are good enough.
You are going to be just fine.
Coady Shovlain, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions