Application & Essay | Transcripts & Recommendation Letters | Test Scores & Résumé
Finally! You’ve done your research and narrowed down your list of target schools. Now you’re ready to prepare your documents and complete your applications.
All universities have their own distinct series of steps and requirements for admission, and depending on your major, these requirements may vary. Pay special attention to each school’s requirements (and deadlines), and always reach out to an admissions counselor if you have questions.
Here are a few tips to help with the process:
The Application: Your “Virtual Introduction” to the University
Every undergraduate program requires an application for admission, many of which are completed entirely online. Take your time filling out the application—proofread it for grammatical errors and typos. Your application is the first time a school considers you as a prospective student, so make sure the information you provide is clear, accurate, and inclusive of all the great things you’ve done as a student so far. In addition, most schools charge a fee to submit an application, and costs will vary from one school to another.
The Essay: There Will Most Likely be an Essay Requirement
Most programs require an essay with your application. Each school you apply to will outline a topic and specify the length of your essay. This is your chance to demonstrate your writing skills and let your personality (and “voice”) come through.
Some important Dos and Don’ts:
DO review samples of other essays and brush up on tips and best practices for writing great essays.
DON’T copy someone else’s essay or anything from a book. This is considered plagiarism and will not be tolerated by any institution.
DO follow the directions the school provides, particularly regarding page limit, subject matter, etc.
DON’T use the same essay for every single school you are applying to. Make sure your essay meets the unique requirements posted by each school. Be creative and thoughtful.
DO start writing your essay early enough (in advance of the application deadline) to allow for revisions and editing. Follow the format required by the school to write a professional, compelling, interesting, and thoughtful essay—and most importantly, let your personality shine through. Share your essay with your guidance counselor or English teacher—they can help with editing, proofreading, etc.
DON’T write too casually or in slang terms. The tone of your essay is extremely important—be yourself but professional. Don’t use hard-to-read fonts or colored type, and don’t use colored paper (if you have to submit a hard copy).
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It’s Official: You’ll Need Copies of Your High School/College Transcripts
- An "official transcript" is an unopened copy of your records from the high school or previous colleges you’ve attended, and may be required as part of the application process.
- Request these documents well in advance of the application deadline—they may take a few weeks for processing.
- They can be sent directly to the school you are applying to, or they may be sent to you—but if they’re sent to you, they must remain unopened by you. Once they are opened, they are not considered official documents by the schools you are applying to.
- There is also a nominal fee associated with requesting these official documents at most institutions.
Recommendation Letters: We Recommend You Follow These Tips
The application process may also include recommendation letters. Some schools may require one, others may require three. The school may require that these letters be sent directly to the school by the person who writes them, but each school has its own process and requirements.
- In most cases, schools will not allow personal friends or family members to write recommendation letters for you.
- Ask people who’ve had direct experience with you: coaches, teachers, counselors, mentors, or supervisors you’ve had at your place of employment. Choose people who can speak to your character, work ethic, dedication, and commitment.
Be sure to give those who recommend you plenty of time to write your letter—and make sure you thank them!
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The ABC’s of Test Scores
For business majors, colleges and universities require that your application include an SAT or ACT score. If you plan to attend a school in a country where the native language is not your first language, you will most likely have to take a language fluency test. For example, if you are going to study in the U.S. and English is not your native language, you will likely have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in addition to your SAT or ACT.
All of these examinations are offered at a variety of locations worldwide. The SAT, ACT, and TOEFL charge a fee to take the test. You must register and pay for the exams in advance, as test centers only allow a limited number of students per session. You can register for these tests online at the following websites:
> Register for the SAT
> Register for the ACT
> Register for TOEFL—Test of English as a Foreign Language
You will need to study for the entrance exams you will be required to take. Most of the time, when you register for a test you will be given opportunities to download study materials. In addition to the materials that are supplied from the actual organization that administers the test, you can find a variety of test prep books online or in your local bookstore. There are even classes available to help you prepare for the exam. If you are nervous about scoring well on your test, get your hands on as many practice materials as possible to help you become more comfortable with how these tests work. Knowing what you can expect on test day and being able to pace yourself through long, tough questions will be key to your success.
Your Résumé: All of that Hard Work is About to Pay Off
- Some degree programs will require a résumé—but don’t worry! If you’ve never written one before, we’ve compiled some references to help you.
- You can also use your high school's career services or guidance counselor's office. They will have plenty of resources to help get you going.
- Your résumé doesn't have to be anything drastically different than you would provide to a potential employer—just be sure it’s current.
- This is your opportunity to show your work experience, volunteer activities, awards, and professionalism.
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