How to Get Into Your Dream School

July 7, 2017

Hi everyone! As I'm registering for classes and packing my things into boxes, I cannot help but think about how blessed I am to be preparing to attend my dream school! While a large part of the college application process is about luck, there are also some things you can do to improve your chances of getting into your first choice school! In case you found this post randomly and don't follow my blog (which you definitely should) I'm going to be a first-year at Georgetown University this fall! Georgetown is quite a tough school to get into and I honestly feel so fortunate to have this opportunity!

1. Start Early
I cannot stress enough how important/helpful it is to start your college applications the summer after junior year! The Common App opens pretty early and starting in June vs. Mid-August, when your senior year starts, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only does this allow you to give your essays the attention they truly deserve, but it's also a good time to make a definite list of the colleges you're going to be applying to, discuss the list with your parents, and rank your colleges by how much you want to go there.

2. Make a Spreadsheet
I actually started with multiple lists and when I saw that my friend Lexi had created a massive spreadsheet in Google Drive I was inspired to do the same. Mine had all the schools I was applying to in order from most to least exciting and had columns for me to track whether or not the school used the Common App, all the essay prompts and how much I had written, any ideas for the essay prompts, and what I need to fill out for financial aid and school-specific scholarships! I also kept track of the average SAT/ACT scores so I could make sure I had a balanced distribution of target, reach, and safety schools. I also color coded mine as far as complete and incomplete applications and later the schools I was accepted to, denied from, and waitlisted to.

3. Go to an Interest Meeting
What originally sparked my interest in Georgetown was an interest meeting that my school held early on in my junior year. A lot of students think that they are just for seniors, but usually, any student can attend! These meetings are usually led by either admissions reps or alum of the school who give great insight into what the school offers. They're also super helpful in conveying the "vibe" of the school and the type of people who thrive there! Even if the person is not relevant in the admissions process, ask questions and take notes!! I was so glad I still had the notes I took in my agenda during the application process.

4. Do Your Research
A great way to show a school that they are your top choice is to tailor your essay to that specific school. I had four or five essay topics that I tailored to each school, enough so that I wasn't able to just erase the name and resubmit. For Georgetown, I mentioned going to Georgetown Cupcakes and visiting the Smithsonian to show that I was passionate about the school and I really saw myself there! I knew about Georgetown's values and was able to demonstrate through my essay how I personified those values and how I would contribute to the campus as a person.

5. Get Personal
Your essay should be an accurate portrayal of you, not just what you've done. It's easy to make your essay an elongated resume or application, but admissions officers already have your application in front of you so give them something else. The essay that I'm most proud of is one that I wrote specifically for Georgetown about teaching my little brother how to ride a bike. Not only did it show one of the unconventional ways I was spending my summer, but it also showed that I value my relationship with my family and I was supportive of others even when there was no personal gain. Even on my academic focused essays, I wrote about my personal connection to the activity through a quick anecdote. It's really important to write about things that are specific to you and set you apart from others, so that when admissions officers are reading through stacks of essays yours is refreshing and memorable instead of more of the same.

6. Interview
Last, but definitely not least, if you the opportunity to interview with a school do it! You definitely want to make a great impression and give your application another personal note. My biggest advice when it comes to this is to be the best version of yourself. I didn't talk about all of my accomplishments or why I should get in, my best interviews were ones in which I discussed music taste and art preferences as opposed to how I heard of the school and my favorite classes. I also cannot stress enough how important it is to ask questions! For Georgetown, I asked about how much politics affects the campus environment (which was relevant during an election year), how often students visited the city, and how common/easy it was to make friends outside of the specific school or program (for me the business school). I also asked the interviewer about his experience so I could gain a broader scope of the school!

My final piece of advice is to get excited about every school you're applying to. I applied to some schools that I loved and would have been thrilled to go to, and some that my parents made me apply to. Throughout the process, I discovered something special about each school that made me excited about the prospect of attending, even if it was my 7th choice! To all my juniors who are (hopefully) working on their applications right now, I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to message me or leave a comment with any more questions! Stay tuned, xo Lauren.
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