Tips offered to give you the upper hand at applying to college - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Tips offered to give you the upper hand at applying to college

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November can be a big month when it comes to applying for college with deadlines for early admissions and early decisions looming.

Channel 3 Eyewitness News reached out to college deans across Connecticut and asked them where students go wrong when it comes to applying for college and what they can do to increase their chances of getting in.

To get accepted into any college, you need to make an impression – a good one.

"We know that they're in high school, but they've got to give that evidence that they're ready to step forward," Trinity College Dean of Admissions Larry Dow said.

The college essay is a big part of the application process. From Connecticut College, it's recommended to "spend time on the essay" because "it allows you to show your uniqueness," according to Sacred Heart University.

What students may not realize is that on an open-ended essay, most students gravitate to the same serious topics like lost loved ones, sports involvement, community service or studying abroad.

"They can still write about those subjects, but they have to realize that ultimately they will have to find a distinctive, honest way to approach it," Dow said.

The college essay needs to reflect the character of the student, but don't want to come across as a "character."

Not everyone loves a comedian.

"It's risky when you push that envelope and go for outlandish humor or sarcasm," Dow said. "You have to be pretty good at those things as a writer to portray that properly."

Everyone Channel 3 Eyewitness News asked recommends that you proofread everything you send in. Assuming you did it yourself, you'll be able to catch your mistakes. And if someone else did it for you, which is a big no-no, then you can catch those places where mom and dad wrote "we" instead of "I."

"There are certain signs where sometimes the writer will slip into third person when talking about their son or daughter and let it slip that it really isn't written by that person," Dow said.

So choose your words wisely and be true to who you are as a person. Pulling out those big, fancy words won't necessarily fly.

"We do want them to be genuine," Dow said. "So, yes. ‘Plethora' is one of those words where you just think, ‘well, that should be saved for maybe once or twice in your lifetime.'"

And submitting an essay intended for a different college? Well, that's not a good thing. Trinity College received one such essay.

"It was a very thorough, well-written, well-researched essay about the other place," Dow said. "Right down to the faculty she wanted to work with."


And when it comes to recommendations, don't just ask anyone. Sacred Heart University's dean of admissions said it's important to pick the right people for the job.

"In order to show yourself as unique, someone should be able to speak to your individuality," Central Connecticut State University Director of Recruitment and Admissions Larry Hall said. "And the only other person who can do that is someone who knows you on that level. Someone who doesn't know you very well can't paint the most accurate picture of you. They can, you know, do the paintbrush stroke but they cannot deal with the finer details if they don't know you on that level."

Another recommendation – stick to the deadlines.

Supply all the information that is required and make sure the major you want is actually offered at the school you're applying to. And from Quinnipiac University's admissions dean, "don't settle."

If there's a college that interests you, then apply. She said you never know if you stand a chance, if you don't get into the game.

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