This post is part of the Best of the Blog series - focused information designed to help you get into the college of your dreams.
Doing your own research makes a big difference when searching for the right college or university. Whether you want scholarship info or you're preparing for the Common App, there’s a ton of information available online (and elsewhere!) to help you get your bearings.
Then again, sometimes it’s really good to go straight to an experienced source.
That's why we sat down with the IPFW Admissions team to get their insider advice on making your college application stand out.
Q1: What’s the single most important thing to do before applying to a college?
A1: Visit campus! Sure, you can learn a lot about a school before you even set foot on campus, there’s no better way to get a real, first-hand feeling for a school than to see it yourself. Come prepared with lots of questions for everyone you see that day. Focus on things to ask the admissions team, students in your major, and your tour guide.
Q2: What do you wish more students would do on their application?
A2: Be professional. Your application should reflect you, your skills and abilities, and the goals you set in your life. Don’t think of your freshman year of college as the 13th grade — it’s really a whole new chapter in your life. You need to show us that you prepared for it.
Q3: What do you wish students wouldn’t do with their application?
A3: Please, please don't wait until the last minute to apply! It stresses the student out because you're fighting a tight deadline, especially when you need to track down a last-minute transcript, letter of recommendation, or test score. That stuff takes time, but if you wait too long, then everything's a crisis.
Applying at the last moment can also reduce your financial aid award and make you miss scholarship opportunities. Some types of aid get awarded on a first-come, first-served basis; many scholarships carry early application deadlines. If you wait too long, then the aid dwindles and you start missing deadlines. That's why we always tell students to apply as early as possible. You’ll be glad you did.
(Pro tip: Find out about other common application mistakes that admissions reps hope you avoid.)
Q4: What makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful college application?
A4: We already talked about professionalism, but let's hit that again.
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 included all the transcripts, letters, and exam scores the school requested. Do the same for all of the supporting materials the school wants. Review the whole package one more time before sending it to make sure you assembled it all in exactly the way your school wants.
Don’t make a school remind you about something! If we have to nudge you about transcripts, forms, or deadlines, it’s not a positive sign for your application.
Q5: If you could say one thing to every student applying to college this year, what would it be?
A5: Good question. Think about the goals you set for yourself — personal, academic, and professional. How will this college or that degree program set you up to accomplish those goals?
The college experiences starts in the classroom, but you should also think about how you'll get involved on and off campus. Learn about each school's student life programs, career prep resources, study abroad options and leadership develop opportunities. College is about getting an education, but it’s also about building a skill set to launch you toward your dreams, goals, and career after graduation.