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College Application Letter Examples

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Sarah Neudorf October 11, 2021 Letter

Hi there. Today, I'm going to tell you, the top 3 biggest mistakes that high achieving high school students make when they're applying to college. As a private college admissions consultant for some of the smartest kids around the world. I've realized that no matter how brilliant these kids are, a lot of them have the same misconceptions about the college application process. And to be perfectly honest, I made some of these same mistakes when I was applying to college myself. So please close out of Facebook, put your phone away, now let's jump right into it.

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One of the biggest mistakes that I see high school students make, when they're applying to college is that they don't do enough research about colleges. I found that most high achieving high school students are very knowledgeable topics like SAT prep, college activities, college essays. But when it comes to writing down a college list, a list of colleges that you plan on applying to, most people fall into two categories. They either say something like, oh, I'll just apply to all the IV's, or I'll just apply to the top 15, or they just have one dream school that they really want to get into, and they don't care about any other college.

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Having worked with students on their college applications letter for two years now. I realize just how ridiculous both of these viewpoints are. Even the Ivy League schools themselves have a wide range of academic difficulty structure, location, social life-size, all of these things that make a big difference in your college experience. Prestige will help you in the job market. But you have to realize that college is four years of your life. So don't go somewhere that you're going to hate just because of its US News rankings.

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What's the best way to do your college research? Well, first I would head to The College Board, big future college search tool. On this site, you can filter colleges like a million ways. And you could make a big list of colleges you might be interested based on this list. And then go through each of them, head to their official website, and check out what the academic structure, and requirements are like.

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Now, where it gets a little more difficult is judging sort of the softer aspects of the college. These are things like social life location, what it likes to live in a city versus a rural area food, social events, sports, culture, all that kind of stuff. Now, what I would normally suggest is either to look on your social media for friends that go to that college, and try to schedule a meeting with them, talk about their experience. Or head over to Youtube, and see if there are any college Vloggers who go to the college you're interested in.

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But you likely don't have a friend at all of your top college choices. And it's kind of hard to come by good quality content on you too as well. So, today I'm going to offer something a little different. What if you could video call with students that are attending your dream schools? Uni Success has recruited college students from over 1,000 U.S. colleges. They've also created a super easy to use platform on which you can search for any one of these colleges, and find students who actually attend those colleges. Once you found a student, all you have to do is text them through the platform with a time and date that you like to meet, and have a chat and boom, you're done. These students will give you insights into campus life, and culture, and can even give you information about special admissions requirements for that college that you might not have known about.

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So, what is the second mistake that even the most capable Ivy League applicants make? It's underestimating the importance of letters of recommendation. Most of us will just email two teachers from our Junior year, either at the end of Junior year, or the beginning of Senior year asking to write a letter of recommendation. You know, maybe we'll attach a resume to the email, but that's about it, and usually they say yes, so we're all good, right?. No, no, no, that's completely wrong. If you didn't notice, there are a lot of students at your school.

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So, the best teachers are probably getting 10, 20. 40, 60 different requests to write letters of recommendations. And look, teachers are fantastic people. But unfortunately, that does not make them super human. I mean, if you had to write 40 letters in a month, what would you do? Personally, I create a template where I can plug in a student's name, perhaps a few adjectives about them, and one anecdote of something that I really enjoyed them doing in my class. But none of them would really stand out. So, if you do want your letters of recommendation to stand out, and trust me, you do. You're going to need to take a different approach than most people. In the first few weeks of Junior year, I would look at all of your teachers very closely, and decide within possibly the first month, or so which two teachers you're going to end up getting letters recommendation from.

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You obviously want to be putting the most effort into these two classes throughout the year. And also you really want to stop by after class to ask extra questions. If you don't do too well on a test, look for that extra help, and try to improve your understanding. Once it's around May, it's time to start reaching out to those teachers about writing letters of recommendation.

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However, you're going to ask in person, and then follow up with an email with more details. Asking in person really makes it more of a personal thing, also shows that you're sort of on a more regular basis with the teacher. And you know, in an email later on you can send in all those juicy details about you. Now in the email, you're going to send make a few bullet points of things that you really liked, that you did in a teacher's class. Make sure you also attach a resume with all of your extracurricular activities. And maybe even a transcript with your grades in your other classes. And also in the email offer to meet for lunch, or after school, or something like that. Just to talk a little about what you want out of the letter recommendation, and also help the teacher fill in any gaps about things, that they don't really know about you.

This way, you pretty much guarantee that the teacher will be writing a highly personalized letter recommendation just for you. Even if you don't have the highest grade in class. You will come off as the most passionate in the class to that teacher, which is obviously way more important for a letter of recommendation.

So last but not least. The third major mistake that I see college applicants making all the time. I mean, all the time is trying to retake the SAT - ACT subject test. When they really don't need to. I know that it's very tempting to think of your standardized test scores, as directly correlated with your chance of getting into a college. But in some cases, you know that's true. But in a lot of cases, it's simply just not the truth is once you hit a certain threshold. You do not need to worry about standardized testing anymore, guys. I'm telling you, I see this over and over again. Just listen to what I'm about to say for elite universities.

The threshold is about 15 - 20 on the SAT, and 35 on the ACT. If you're applying to less competitive schools than the top 20 the Ivy League's. Then go to the school's website, check out the SAT - ACT percentiles. If you're at, or above the 75th percentile score, you are very, very good. And in the running for that school, you don't need to retake. In terms of SAT subject test, it is a little more complicated. But generally, if it's a stem focus test, you want to go 75 plus, and for all other test, if there's a 7 in front of it, you're good.

And a note, even if your score is sub-optimal, it is much, much more worth your time to put effort into starting a student group, running a fundraiser, becoming president, or captain of a sports team. Then it will be to raise your score by like 30, 50-points on the SAT. Now, all these things are a lot harder than studying from a book, and taking practice test, which is why I feel that so many students revert to this. It feels productive, but it's really not.

Now that you know the biggest mistakes made by college applicants. Please do your best to research your colleges, really get involved with your teachers that you're going to ask for letters of recommendation. And don't retake the SAT and ACT when you clearly don't need to. Well, I'm going to start posting weekly again as we head into this next college application letter. See you guys.

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