Being a high schooler is hard. Students juggle rigorous courses and various extra-curriculars, with minimal free time and growing pressures about their futures. As junior year approaches, students typically begin thinking about the “what’s next?” following high school graduation. From standardized testing courses to researching schools and future careers, it’s no surprise many students stress over the biggest piece of the puzzle: college applications. Many of the same pressures apply to Give Back scholars, who must remain eligible for their scholarships at the chosen partner school. Fortunately, we are here to help you with some quick tips to impress the admissions committee at your goal school.

Step 1: Research and Visit Colleges

In order to begin applying, it is essential to have an idea of what you’re looking for in a university. For Give Back scholars, there are several items to consider when applying to the partner college you plan to attend. After going on the scheduled college tours with fellow scholars, we strongly suggest making a pros and cons list to narrow down your options. Identify your top priorities—be it the location, the programs they offer, or the activities surrounding campus.

Step 2: Request Letters of Recommendation

A vital aspect that many schools review are Letters of Recommendation. Reach out to some of the key mentors that have led you to where you are today. It could be an elementary teacher, a soccer coach, or a family friend. Ultimately, the person(s) writing on your behalf should be able to speak on your greatest strengths, giving specific examples of your personal achievements.

Step 3: Submit your Final Transcripts and Test Scores

Give Back scholars are required to turn in their transcripts and standardized test scores for final review before being selected for admission to their chosen partner school. We recommend reaching out to the colleges you are applying to regarding standardized test preferences (ACT or SAT) and consider taking the tests multiple times to achieve optimum results. Though the end of your senior year can be distracting with other activities and celebrations, make sure to maintain the required Grade Point Average at your chosen school(s) and finish strong.

Step 4: Create a Timeline for Applications

Scholars may apply to more colleges than their top partner school. If so, make sure to set a deadline for each application to ensure that your top picks are submitted early, if desired, or on the required date set forth by the university. As you begin applications, you’ll find it difficult to prioritize one over the other, so it’s important to make a realistic and organized timeline.

Step 5: When you Think You’re Finished, Check Again

For students applying to more than one university, it’s easy to become complacent. Before submitting each application, make sure you proofread your work. Everything from your first and last name, to each honor or award listed, should be reread multiple times. Precise, clean work is the first step to an impressive application. 

We hope that these simple tips help streamline the college application process. Though tedious, many graduates remember the fulfilling feeling of receiving a college acceptance. Work hard, be curious and conscientious, and you will achieve great things!