College application season can seem like a blur for many students – as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of forms combine to create what can be a stressful start to senior year. The new startup AdmitSee collects and analyzes applications from students who were accepted to colleges and universities across the country. The site recently asked its members about what they would do differently if they had to apply to college all over again. Cofounder Stephanie Shyu shares their answers with us.
Finding a summer internship, volunteer opportunity or part-time job to boost their resumes.
“A lot of students are just not aware of [the opportunities] that are out there,” says Shyu. While internships are usually associated with college and graduate students, she says there are opportunities out there for high school students if they know where to look. AdmitSee hopes to soon launch a resources page for teens to help them connect to companies and positions that would be a good fit for them.
Wishing they started prepping for the SATs earlier.
Well after graduation, many students still wish they had studied more for the SATs, says Shyu. Familiarizing yourself with the exam and the material it tests can go a long way. According to AdmitSee’s data, many students say they wish they had began prepping during their sophomore year or earlier.
Putting more thought into their application essays.
The college admission essay is one of the only times during the entire process where the student has the opportunity to let his or her personality shine through. Taking the time to customize an essay for each school could make a big difference. Shyu also points out that many students use their essays to bolster the weak points in their applications. (For example: did your grades suffer your junior year because you had mono or were going through some family drama? There’s no way for an admissions officer to know that unless you tell them.)
Getting more involved in after school activities.
School clubs and sports are great ways to both explore new interests and make new friends. “I think that some students felt that they didn’t join as many activities as they could have or that they weren’t joining the right activities for them,” says Shyu.
Visit every college you are planning to apply to.
Shyu and her co-founder Lydia Fayal found that many students they talked to applied to colleges without ever making a visit to campus. While it may be cost-prohibitive to visit schools across the country before being accepted, it may be a good idea to plan trips to all of the local schools you are interested in.
For more of AdmitSee’s data, see our piece on college application trends.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter at @LakshmiGandhi.