What I wish I had known about applying to college


Photo by Ethan Lenkin

Noah Lenkin reads a book that will help prepare him for college at Boston University

As the college process wrapped up for me this past month, I reflected on what a journey it had been. I had worked for all of my high school career, and especially these last two years, to prepare to apply for college and make sure my resume and application was the best it could be. Ultimately, I ended up committing to Boston University to study political science.

However, there are a few things that I wish I knew about applying to college. First, and I think I realized this as the pandemic ensued, there are so many other ways to get information about colleges then just touring the school. By spending two or three hours on a college website compared to a one-hour tour, you may get way more information about the college. Due to the pandemic forcing the closure of most colleges’ in-person classes, I was forced to do the majority of my research online. The only colleges I visited were local, and overall I found it more helpful to read information online and attend virtual seminars online.

Another thing I wish I knew about applying to college was that the ACT/SAT tests do not decide what college you are going to. I went into the process thinking those tests were the most important part of the college process. Now, I realize that having a balanced extracurricular resume and writing a good essay are most important. If I could write a good essay that communicated who I was, I felt the college would accept me. I believe my test scores did help me to an extent in succeeding in the college process, but I think my essay and extracurriculars helped more.

One other thing I wish I knew about applying to college was the supplemental essays and their importance. Going into the process, I had just focused on my main essay, but I learned how important the supplemental essays were. Usually they were quirky, and I got the sense that those essays would reveal more about me. For example, one supplemental essay for a college asked me to describe myself as a potential roommate. I learned to put as much time into the various supplemental essays as I did into the main common app essay.

One more thing I wish I knew about applying to college was that you don’t have to have a dream school,a school you have your eyes set on. At the beginning, I wished I had some semblance of where I was going, but as I began to narrow down my choices, I realized that I would be happy at any one of the 13 colleges I ended up applying to. I was grateful that I had so many choices, but worried I would have trouble deciding. However, I was able to make that decision, and I know in my heart Boston University is the right school for me.

A last thing I wish I knew about applying to college was remembering to keep it all in perspective. I think there were some moments throughout the process where I forgot to take a step back and remember that the college I go to doesn’t define my life path. Every student should remember that their college is not setting their life in stone, and that it just provides certain opportunities.