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5 Common and Helpful Tips to Spruce Up Your College Application

5 Common and Helpful Tips to Spruce Up Your College Application

Every college career starts out with an application, and applying to college can be both exciting and scary as the applicant competes with others for a limited number of spots. The applicant will want their application to stand out from among the rest, which means that a lot of thought and effort must go into crafting it. While each school will have its own criteria for assessing applicants, it is still possible to improve an application so as to maximize the applicant’s chances of being chosen; factors like correctly timing the application and researching the institution can greatly affect an individual’s prospects. Below are a few bits of advice for successfully applying to a college.

1. Write an Excellent Application Essay

In other words, applicants should avoid writing the safe and generic essays that admissions officers see on a daily basis. They will need to be creative and original; most importantly, the applicant will need to reveal something about themselves that sets them apart from their competition. The admissions staff will want to know how the applicant thinks as well as how they handle certain situations. The application essay should be expressive of the individual’s own thought process and ideas, and it is best to have it proofread by an English teacher or someone with strong English language skills to eliminate any errors. Applicants should remember that the admissions officers want to know about them, their thoughts and ideas; any editorial alterations to the essay should be minimal. Applicants should note that admissions staff are experienced at ferreting out work written by others.

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2. Apply Early

Admissions departments at many schools report having to cope with a slew of applications on the deadline day, which makes it difficult for them to single any one student out from the rest. By sending in an application early, a student can separate themselves from the pack and signal that they are serious about attending the school.

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3. Avoid Ignoring Clearly-Stated Instructions

Admissions staff may take this as a sign that an individual is unprepared for the complexities of college life. Students often fill out online forms incorrectly because they have failed to thoroughly read instructions; this makes the work of reading their application more difficult. Other signs that a student is unable or unwilling to heed instructions come in the form of asking questions when the answers have already been given or are readily available on the school’s website. College life requires a certain amount of independence and self-guided learning, so applicants should read materials carefully and strive to find answers themselves before needlessly spamming a school’s admissions department.

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4. Use Letters of Recommendation Carefully

Applicants should ensure that the person referring them is capable of expressing their endorsement properly and has only positive things to say about them. Also, it is best to use a letter of recommendation only if its contents are different from those of the application essay. Applicants should note that the source of the letter is sometimes as important as its contents—a recommendation from a teacher in whose class the applicant has performed well is not quite as impressive as one from the teacher of a class that they struggled to pass. Just like the application essay, letters of recommendation should feel heartfelt and honest.

5. Avoid Being Disrespectful to Admissions Staff

While this may seem obvious, applying to colleges is more stressful for some than for others; not everyone is capable of managing that stress well. It is important that applicants avoid letting their emotions overcome common sense and derail their attempts to get into a school. They should always be well-mannered and courteous to admissions staff.

The most important thing to remember when applying to college is to always be honest and open. The goal is to find a college that is a good fit for the applicant, and this cannot be done if they are not candid and forthcoming.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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