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Improve your college application for overseas studies

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Follow these 5 simple steps from the expert to take your college application to the next level

By Vibha Kagzi, Founder, Reachivy.com.

With college application submission deadlines fast approaching, many students begin to panic, and lose control of their tasks. If you are applying to more than 5 colleges abroad, you already have your plate full. With resumes, letters of recommendation, financial papers, and essays to put together, there is already enough balls in the air that need to be managed. For all practical reasons, you have just one shot at your dream school, and you don’t want to mess that up.

If you are applying for the fall admission of 2018, here are 5 last minute tips to keep in mind before you hit ‘send’ on your application submission. These last-minute tips may seem like a no-brainer to some, but in the absence of a structure or plan, one mistake can make even the best application collapse like a house of cards.

Scrutinize All Your Documents to Ensure That They Meet All Prerequisites
Whether you are applying for early decision or for the regular round, you run the risk of having overlooked a teeny-tiny detail. Many students have missed out on a great admission simply because they did not have an eye for detail.

It is important that you make sure all your documents are in place. Seek the counsel of a friend, professor or an Expert Counsellor to help you navigate through the documents. Even after you have carefully edited and put together your essays and other records, you must go over them once again to ensure that you have met all the prerequisites of the school you are applying to. For example, your college essay may require you to detail your past achievements to showcase your future goals. However, if your essay is generically created to talk about your life, without much regard or emphasis on your past achievements, it defeats the purpose. Read each question carefully. Understand what is expected of you, and follow the instructions to the perfect ‘T’.

Have a Checklist Handy to Keep Track of All Your Work.
Did you put the papers in the correct order as is expected by the school? Have you submitted the relevant copies of the transcripts? Have you submitted the correct scores of the standardized tests you took?
The multiplicity and diversity of tasks may seem mind boggling, if you have not kept a checklist handy. A checklist is a must for every college applicant. It ensures that you stay on top of all deadlines, and you put together a complete application form. Keep checking off all the tasks that got done. Write your comments, track the date of completion for each task, and maintain a log for work in progress. For instance, if you have a recommendation letter due from a college professor, make a separate note for that on your checklist in the ‘work-in-progress’ tab. As you continue to close your tasks, add them to the main checklist to keep track of completed tasks. Before sending your application, go through the checklist to ensure that you have checked off all the important tasks.

Ensure That Your Documents are Tailored for Each School You Are Applying to.
If you commit the faux pas of mixing up your college applications, and sending out the wrong college application to the college of your choice, there may be no way to redeem the situation. Many students have committed this fatal blunder and got rejected. Think about it. How would you feel to receive a job or marriage proposal from someone who addresses you by the wrong name? Nobody likes that. So it is fair for colleges to reject applicants who don’t deem it necessary to tailor their application form to the right college.

When tailoring your application form, verify the usage of the name or details of the school. Make sure to edit your documents to address the questions specific to each college. If you refer to the college or the course or teachers, ensure the veracity of your statements. For instance, don’t make the blunder of talking about a professor of a school you are applying to, without knowing whether that professor still works in the same school.

Make Sure That You Have Enough Buffer Time to Sleep Over Your Application Before Sending.
Sometimes, the best of ideas come to us when it is already too late. That’s because in our free time, we get the opportunity to contemplate on things that could have been done better. If you are ahead of your schedule, you have the buffer time to sleep it over and redo your college application to improve it further. However, if you are racing against time to meet the 11.59 pm deadline, chances are that you will have overlooked a minor detail. It is a great idea to complete all aspects of your college application a week prior to the deadline.

However, that said, you cannot afford to wait till the eleventh hour to send out your applications. A lot of things could possibly go wrong. Your data signal may not work. The website may be down because of the inflow of traffic from thousands of applicants around the world. Plan to send out your application at least two days before the deadline. That way, you have more time, in case you hit a roadblock.

Don’t Forget to Call the Admissions Office.
It’s not over yet! Just because you hit ‘send’ does not warrant a vacation from college application submission. On the contrary, now you must take up every step along the way, to meet the final stage.

You may receive notification from the college that your application is complete or that there are still materials missing. This notification might come via email, postcard, telephone or on the college’s website, if they offer an applicant portal that allows a sign-in via PIN. Two weeks after submission, follow up with the college’s Admissions Department to verify whether they have received your completed application. It is okay to call up the admissions office to verify whether they have received your application in first place, and it is complete in all respects. Some colleges send out an email as soon as they receive the complete application. The onus of ensuring that your application has reached the intended destination, and it is complete in every respect, lies with you.

These 5 golden tips will help you sail through your study abroad application stage. To ensure that you meet all standards, and send across a winning college application, reach out to a counsellor or Expert who understands the whole process and has an insider’s view of how to crack admissions to top schools.

(The author is a study abroad and career advisory. Vibha holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors from Carnegie Mellon University.)

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