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Stressed about college applications? Here are answers to the 4 most common questions

College applications are stressful for students and parents.

As the school year kicks off, the college application process looms ahead, causing both students and parents to feel the weight of its complexity. If you’re a parent of a high school senior, you’re in luck – we’ve got the answers to your burning college application questions.

John Koelliker, an expert in the field, having attended both Brigham Young University and Stanford for his MBA, recognized the need for accessible and affordable guidance in the college application process. Now, he’s dedicated to assisting others on their journey.

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Important Things to Know About College Applications

College application process and timeline

Start early! Prepare your list of schools you’d like to apply to and make sure you look up what their deadlines are. Many schools have a priority or early decision/action deadline sometime in November or December (e.g. BYU’s is Nov 1, Utah’s is Dec 1st). Regular deadlines are December through the spring for most schools.

What to know about the ACT/SAT

Many people stress about the standardized test because they feel like it doesn’t suit how they learn. However, test-taking is like any other skill. It takes time and deliberate practice to improve. We recommend taking timed full-length practice tests so you can get used to what the time constraints are and what it’s like to stay focused for the duration of the test.

Additionally, many schools (including schools in Utah) are not requiring you to submit your ACT/SAT score. So, if you are below historical averages, it might be best not to submit your score. If you are at or above averages, submitting your score can really help. Plus, having an ACT/SAT score can be valuable when applying for certain scholarships, so it’s still worth doing your best!

How to select and prepare your recommenders

Many schools require recommendations as a part of the process. Sometimes it’s a teacher and sometimes it’s a personal reference. The most important thing when selecting a recommender is picking someone who knows you well. Do not ask your parent’s important friend to write one because the words they say won’t be as powerful as the person who knows you.

Also, do your best to prepare your recommenders. At Leland, they have all our students prepare a 1-2 page recommender prep document that tells the recommender where you are applying, when things are due, and some ideas for things they can touch on in your recommendation. That level of preparation can be such an advantage and can ensure your recommenders are set up for success!

How to write strong and differentiated essays

The best essays give the admissions committee a glimpse into who you are as a person. Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Be you. Some applicants stress about the essays because they don’t feel like they’ve had any crazy experience, challenge or accomplishment. However, a few things to remember:

  • If it’s important to you, you can make it important to them!
  • Perhaps your experience wasn’t necessarily unique, but what you learned and how you are different as a result of it can be unique.

It also really helps to get opinions from people who know what makes a great essay. Leland has hundreds of coaches that help thousands of Utah parents with this every year. This article has some sample BYU admit essays that you can use to get a sense for what they are looking for.

Leland has several free events and resources available to students and parents on their website. Additionally, on Wednesday, Aug 30, Leland is hosting an event about the BYU application process for parents and students.

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