You're embarking on a journey that can be quite exciting! The college application process gives you a chance to reflect on your high school experiences and imagine what will come next. You've got lots of opportunities on the horizon, but first you have to apply. And before that, you've got to figure out where you'd like to apply to. It can seem like a lot at first, but it will all come together in time—and remember it's okay to have open conversations with your school counselor, teachers, family, and friends throughout the process.
First Steps: Overview of the Application Process
Do some self-reflection.
What values are most important to you? What factors do you think will have the biggest impact on your overall success? What are you thinking about studying? Do you have multiple interests? What kind of communities do you want to be a part of? What part of the world do you want to live in—and do you want to be in a city, a suburb, or a rural area? What else is important to your happiness and what do you need to be able to thrive?
Then do some research.
What colleges meet your needs and your wants? Start making a list, and continue to check back and research those schools in more depth throughout the process. Your list can continue to change as you learn more information about colleges, and about what you want! Make sure to take advantage of any opportunities you have to engage directly with colleges—this could be a tour, a virtual visit, information session, fly-in program, or open house events! If one college is really standing out to you, you might want to consider applying to an early admissions round, such as Early Decision (we have two rounds of ED here at Tufts—you can see our deadlines here).
Put together your applications.
Take a deep breath and dive in! The most time-intensive part of the application is often the personal essay and the school-specific questions, for those schools (like Tufts) that have them. Therefore, you should start on those sections early—the personal essay in particular deserves lots of careful editing and planning before it's time to submit! If you're feeling unsure what to write about, sit down and write out some of your different ideas. For each idea, think about what you want someone reading it to take away. Remember, your goal isn't to tell us a story that we haven't heard before (we read a lot of stories!) but rather, to share your perspective and experiences with us and show us how they've shaped you into the person you are today—and who you might want to become!
Proof-read before submitting.
You're almost done—but don't rush to hit submit! Give yourself a few days away from your applications, if you can, before coming back to proof-read. You might notice you've included the wrong college name in one of your essays! Keep an eye out for consistent grammar or spelling errors. We aren't your English teacher, but we do want to see that you've taken your time to edit and intentionally structure your essays.
You did it! Take the time to relax and celebrate—we know it wasn't easy! Keep an eye on your email for updates and requests for any missing materials over the coming months while you wait for your decision update!