It’s important to do your own research. Whether you’re tracking down scholarship info or preparing for the Common App, there’s a ton of information available online (and elsewhere!) to help you get your bearings when applying to college.
But sometimes it’s better to get advice straight from the source.
We decided to sit down with the IPFW Admissions team to ask them for their advice on how to make your college application stand out.
Q1: What’s the absolute most important thing to do when applying to college for the first time?
A1: Visit campus! While there are plenty of ways to learn about a school before you even set foot on campus, there’s no better way to get a real, first-hand feel for what a school is like than to see it for yourself. Be sure to come prepared with lots of questions—for the admissions team, for students in your major, and for your tour guide.
Q2: What’s something you wish more students would do with their application?
A2: Be professional. Your application should not only be a reflection of you, but of your skills, abilities, and goals. Don’t think of your freshman year of college as the 13th grade—it’s a whole new chapter in your life, and we want to see that you’re prepared for it.
Q3: What’s something you wish students wouldn’t do with their application?
A3: A lot of students wait to apply until the last minute. This creates a ton of stress for them, especially when they need to track down that last-minute transcript, letter of recommendation, or test score. That stuff takes time.
Waiting to apply may also limit your financial aid opportunities—and your ability to find scholarships with deadlines that haven’t passed. So don’t wait for spring—apply in the fall. You’ll be glad you did.
(Pro tip: We’ve written before about other application mistakes that admissions reps are tired of.)
Q4: What distinguishes a successful and an unsuccessful college application?
A4: We mentioned professionalism before, but it bears repeating. A successful college application is polished, thorough, and complete. Proofread your personal essays (if your schools require them—IPFW doesn’t). Triple-check that you’ve included all the required transcripts, letters, and exam scores. Make sure you’ve submitted all the supporting materials you need to exactly how the school has asked for them.
And don’t make a school remind you about something! If we have to nudge you about transcripts, forms, or deadlines, it’s not a good sign.
Q5: What’s one thing you wish you could say to every student applying to college this year?
A5: Think about your goals—personal, academic, and professional—and consider how college is going to set you up for success. This doesn’t just mean your experiences in the classroom: think about student life, getting involved, career prep resources, studying abroad, and leadership opportunities. College is about getting an education, but it’s also about building a skill set for your career after you graduate.