Photo by Flickr user kirst19/ Creative Commons.
Photo by Flickr user kirst19/ Creative Commons.
Photo by Flickr user kirst19/ Creative Commons.

Applying for college is no easy task- there are transcripts, essays and interviews.

While it’s an intimidating process, deadlines are fast approaching.

As you prepare to submit your college applications and are in your final stages of review, here are some tips you should consider.

1. Apply broadly
Don’t just apply to one UC, Cal State, or private college, apply to several. Each university is competitive in their own regard. Fill out fee waiver applications or call the office of admissions to receive one. The admission pool is very different every year and relying on your top choice might bring disappointment with no other option.

2. Choose a second major
Always choose a second major. If you are not admitted into your first major most universities will consider your admission into your second major choice”” it doesn’t hurt. And you never know what will happen until you get that letter in the mail.

3. Submit a strong personal statement
Put yourself in the shoes of the admissions reader and ask yourself these questions: After reading dozens of files a day would mine stand out? Have I answered the prompt? Does my essay paint a good picture of who I am and what I bring to the college campus? If not, consider making revisions. Stick to the prompt and make your essay give the best interpretation of YOU.

4. Follow up
While the public university application process is pretty standard, private schools might require follow up materials: a mid year report, updated test scores, or supplemental information. Make sure you comply with all requests in a timely manner.

5. Prepare for interviews
Some private universities offer optional interviews. If they do, sign up for one and put your best foot forward. This is your chance to show the admissions office what you have to offer in person, and you can definitely benefit from talking to a counselor and wow-ing them in person! (Make sure you prepare beforehand).

6. Spend more time at the college center
By this time you should have visited your school’s college center plenty of times. Get to know your college adviser as he or she has tons of resources for you. Prepare to apply for financial aid and prepare to start visiting colleges once you learn your decision. Your college adviser will be a great resource when it comes to applying for scholarships.

7. Tell your parents
Make them proud. Tell them which colleges you are applying to and why. They will be very happy to hear this and will support you all the way.
Fernando Peña is a Boyle Heights native and graduate of Roosevelt High School. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, he served as an admissions counselor there for two years. He currently is pursuing his Masters in Education from the USC Rossier School of Education, and is an Assistant Director of Admissions for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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